• The San Juan Daily Star

Project Dignity president opposes COVID vaccination program for children

Project Dignity President César Vázquez Muñiz

By John McPhaul

Project Dignity President César Vázquez Muñiz on Thursday spoke out against the island government’s determination to force parents to have their children vaccinated if they want them to attend face-to-face classes in Puerto Rico’s schools.

“The Government’s determination is not medically justified given the reality that Puerto Rico is experiencing in relation to COVID-19. At present, over 80 percent of the inhabitants of Puerto Rico over 12 years of age are vaccinated, more than 90 percent of people at risk age (60 years or older) or with risk conditions are vaccinated,” Vázquez Muñiz said in a written statement. “According to the Department of Health’s own statistics, our children are the group with the lowest risk of complications or death if they become infected with COVID, where only two children under the age of nine have died in Puerto Rico from COVID-19. Our children between the ages of five and 11 years have been going to schools in person since August without an increase in infections or an increase in deaths having been reported in the concerned ages. The truth is that it is proven that the vaccine does not make a person less contagious, nor does it reduce the viral load that the vaccinated person can carry. There is no emergency in children between the ages of five and 11 that requires the Government to take a hammer to parental and children’s rights. Furthermore, the long-term effects that this vaccine may have on minors in their development are unknown.”

Vázquez Muñiz, a family medicine physician, raised his objections in response to the statements of Puerto Rico Health Secretary Dr. Carlos Mellado López, who announced Wednesday that health authorities would be beginning an “orderly and gradual” process of pediatric vaccination on the island starting Thursday. Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, for his part, said students must be vaccinated to attend schools in person or else they will have to take classes virtually.

“The Government’s determination is not justified as public policy,” the Project Dignity founder said. “Forcing parents to have to choose between sending their children in person to school or giving them a medically unnecessary vaccine at this time, constitutes an act of arbitrariness against citizens who have mostly cooperated with the Government during the pandemic. The Government does not realize that it is once again implementing alleged public health measures by which those who are most affected are citizens who are willing to work and move our island forward. Those most affected by this determination are the fathers and mothers who are raising children with little or no help from the extended family, forcing them financially to give in to their consciences and what they genuinely believe is the best welfare of their children. Many parents want to wait for their children to develop physically, and for studies related to the long-term effects of the vaccine to emerge, which would help dispel doubts or fears about the experimental vaccine.”

“We urge the parents of children between the ages of five and 11 years who wish to exercise their parental rights to educate themselves about their rights and speak out against an unjustified, arbitrary and capricious imposition,” Vázquez Muñiz said. “Project Dignity is not against vaccines, COVID-19 or any other. We are against the Government using its power to force citizens to violate their consciences by exposing their children to potential risks unnecessarily.”

On Tuesday, an advisory panel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended in a unanimous vote that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine be administered to minors aged 5 to 11.

With the CDC approval, by a vote of 14 to 0, some 28 million children in the United States became eligible to receive the vaccine.

A panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the administration of the vaccine last week for minors from the same age group, after a review of the results in clinical trials conducted by Pfizer that showed a 90.7 percent efficacy in preventing symptomatic forms of COVID-19.

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