Brazilian Olympic athletes and other Tokyo-bound staff members started receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations on Wednesday after an agreement was reached between the Brazilian Government and the National Olympic Committee.
VACINAÇÃO DOS ATLETAS 💉🇧🇷
Se liga nos primeiros atletas vacinados
📸 Miriam Jeske/COB pic.twitter.com/DjlVo7Tbpa
— Time Brasil (@timebrasil) May 14, 2021
Brazil isn’t the first country to vaccinate its Olympic athletes – Australia also started the process this week – but the situation is drastically different considering how hard the South American nation has been hit by the virus.
Brazil has attributed over 425,000 deaths to COVID-19, second to only the United States, and saw its health care system nearly collapse in recent months due to the more contagious variant.
Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga told a news conference that an estimated 1,814 people will get vaccinated in order to go to Tokyo, but the doses will be donated by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Sinovac, meaning that the athlete vaccinations allegedly won’t slow the national program.
“We will vaccinate our Olympic athletes and coaches to ensure they can perform very well in their capacities and bring many medals,” Queiroga said.
“The doses will be donated by pharmaceutical companies so that (the program) will not affect our national immunization campaign.”
Athlete vaccine hubs are currently located in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza. Athletes, coaches, team staff and journalist will have up until June 21 to receive the vaccine – two weeks before flying to Tokyo.
Brazil’s vaccination rollout has reportedly been slow and targeted people aged 60 and over up until now, struggling to secure enough vaccines and forced to suspend immunization campaigns at certain times in various cities.