Covid-19: Health Minister says "final opinion" on child vaccination will be made public

Marta Temido considers this a central issue for the tranquility of Portuguese parents and children

The health minister said today that the technical position of the Vaccination Commission and "the final opinion" on the vaccination of children "will naturally be made public", admitting that the "instructional" documents of the various entities remain internal.

At the parliamentary meeting of the Standing Committee, Marta Temido was questioned by the various benches on this issue, after the General Directorate of Health recommended on Tuesday the vaccination of children between five and 11 years old, with priority for those who are diseases considered to be at risk for severe Covid-19.

The minister, who was also asked about other topics, wanted to start with this one, considering that it is "a central issue for the tranquility of Portuguese parents and children and for confidence in public institutions".

“The government never made decisions regarding vaccination – unlike many of those present -, the government never decided whether or not a vaccine was included in the vaccination plan. It was always, and well, limited to following what was the technical decision, the experts' opinions”, he stated.

In the specific case of the vaccination of children between five and 11 years old against Covid-19, Marta Temido said that, on the 5th, the DGS sent the technical position of the Technical Vaccination Commission to the Ministry of Health.

"The aforementioned position stated that the risk/benefit assessment is favorable to vaccination in this age group, being a priority for children with risk comorbidities", he said.

In other words, he summed up, “universal vaccination and priority for children with at-risk comorbidities, in case it is necessary to prioritize”.

“The technical position concluded that the best interval between doses was still being evaluated, in fact, as in other countries, and that the final technical opinion would include these two aspects”, he said.

The minister also said that she hopes that this technical opinion is concluded after a meeting taking place today.

“Afterwards, the DGS will update the vaccination standard, as usual. The technical position and the final opinion will naturally be made public to anyone who wants to consult them”, he said.

In the end, when asked by journalists whether the opinions of the various entities consulted throughout the process were made public – as requested by some parties during the debate – the minister admitted that these are “instructional documents” of an internal nature.

As of today, the director-general of Health, Graça Freitas, had said that a technical note “summarizing the technical opinion” on the vaccination of children would be released, assuring that the opinions are not secret, but are internal documents.

“We are going to publish a technical note that summarizes the opinion of the Technical Commission on Vaccination. The Technical Commission on Vaccination is a consultative body that delivers a non-binding opinion to the director-general, who takes it to the tutelage”, he stressed

According to Graça Freitas, opinions are internal preparatory documents for the decision-making process and relevant information is extracted from these documents, which is not usual for disclosure.