Health secretary António Lacerda Sales has said that if people keep turning up for vaccinations against Covid-19 as they are at the moment, there will be no reason to make the jabs mandatory.
His comments came during a visit to a vaccination centre in Leiria, shortly after President Marcelo had much the same message earlier this morning.
The country was lauded in the international press three months ago as having “nearly run out of adults to vaccinate”.
Since then has come the roll-out of booster jabs (which have already seen 1.5 million citizens given their 3rd jabs), and next up will be children from the ages of five.
This is perhaps where comments were more focused today.
Marcelo was speaking at the Carcavelos Campus of the New University of Lisbon.
He said how “happy” he was with adhesion to the vaccines generally, and, according to Diário de Notícias, he is hoping it will be in similar numbers when it comes to young children.
“The Portuguese people understand that they should get vaccinated, without the need of obligatory vaccines”, said Marcelo.
This was first weekend set aside for those who received the ‘one-shot’ Janssen vaccine, to get the updated requirement of a second shot.
People have turned out in huge numbers.
Said Marcelo: “I am happy to learn today that the vaccination of tens of thousands of Portuguese is expected and that adhesion is so large that the question of having to make the vaccines obligatory doesn’t apply”.
Regarding children, he referred to the “various points of view” before vaccines were recommended for 12-18 year olds, saying: “there was a massive uptake” nonetheless. “This was a good signal. I do not see any reason not to have the same adhesion by parents, grandparents and others responsible for children of younger ages”.
The DGS is already in possession of the opinion of pediatricians and will be announcing whether to give Covid vaccines to 5-11 year olds after receiving reports on the social and educational benefits involved (click here).
Everything points however to the decision already having been made.
António Lacerda Sales said today that he hoped there would be a large uptake by parents of children (under the ages of 12) “because we are talking about children without autonomy to decide”.
The vaccination in younger age groups “is done safely and is effective”, he said. “That is what is important”.
Mr Sales added that the roll-out of booster shots has already reached the 1.5 million target “15 days ahead of schedule.
“This is due to an enormous effort of planning, and an enormous effort by Portuguese people”.
This “temporal cushion” will make it possible for authorities to vaccinate more people in eligible age groups “so that there is a lesser possible impact on families over the Christmas period” (in case of infections).
He stressed the vaccination drive will also mean “the least possible impact on health services”.