Uruguay suspended COVID-19 vaccines for children under 13 after a Judge Alejandro Recarey issued an injunction halting vaccinations in that age group until government officials turn over its contracts with Pfizer.
Judge Alejandro Recarey of the Uruguayan Administrative Litigation Tribunal ordered the halting of vaccination, although voluntary, after receiving answers to 18 questions about the safety and chemical composition of Pfizer vaccines that was signed by Uruguayan Health Minister Daniel Salinas.
“Many Uruguayans under 13 have been able to receive the necessary doses, but others have not,” Salinas wrote.
Alvaro Delgado, the secretary of the presidency, said the halt is a threat to public health.
“We’re convinced that it’s crazy to suspend voluntary vaccination because it has a strong scientific backing,” Delgado said at a news conference.
Vaccinations for those older than 13 will continue, the Health Ministry said in a statement.
The judge used his inquisitorial powers to demand the Uruguayan Ministry of Public Health, State Health Services Administration and the President’s Office submit all information regarding the contracts for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, including contractual information related to any clauses of civil indemnity or criminal impunity of the suppliers in the event of adverse effects.
The judge told the parties they had 48 hours to turn over the documents and answer his questions a week ago.
The government refused to present the Pfizer contracts to the judge claiming a confidentiality clause prevents it from sharing the document.
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The judge is seeking, among other things, to know whether there are clauses in the contracts that promised civil and criminal immunity due to any adverse effects from the vaccines. Recarey also wants information about the chemical composition of the vaccines.
Although covid cases are on the rise in Uruguay, 44% of Uruguayan children between ages 5 and 11 and 75% of those between 12 and 14 have received two doses of coronavirus vaccine, according to Uruguay government data.
The government plans to appeal the decision.
Judge Recarey posed a series of questions to government officials and Pfizer regarding the chemical composition, efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines, and required Pfizer to state whether it has “admitted, in any area, internal or external to it and its partners, the verification of adverse effects” of its COVID-19 vaccines in children.