Uruguay Halts COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids Under 13, Judge Demands Government Officials Turn Over Pfizer Contracts

Uruguay suspended COVID-19 vaccines for children under 13 after a judge on Thursday issued an injunction halting vaccinations in that age group until government officials turn over contracts between Pfizer and the Uruguayan government.

Uruguayan government officials and Pfizer were ordered on Wednesday to appear in court after judge Alejandro Recarey gave them 48 hours to present detailed information on Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine while the court considered an injunction request to halt COVID-19 vaccinations for children 5 and older.

The government said a confidentiality clause in the contract prevents it from producing the documents, The Washington Post reported.

According to ABC News, the judge received answers to 18 questions about the safety and chemical composition of COVID-19 vaccines, signed by Health Minister Daniel Salinas, but did not turn over the contracts.

It is unknown whether the answers provided by government officials adequately addressed the questions posed by the judge, who ultimately ordered an injunction based on what was provided.

Salinas, after the court’s ruling, strongly defended the government’s vaccination plan and criticized the judge for questioning the safety of vaccines.

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 government plans to appeal the decision, according to ABC News.

As The Defender reported Wednesday, judge Recarey of the Administrative Litigation Tribunal 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 is seeking, among other things, to know whether there are clauses in the contracts that promised pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer civil and criminal immunity for adverse effects caused by their vaccines.

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.

Reporting from The Defender.