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Brazil’s Social Welfare Recipients Must Give Children COVID Vaccine, Alludes New President

"We can’t hesitate; we can’t play around. It is a question of science. If there are ten covid vaccines, 50 to take, I will take as many as necessary because I like my life," Lula told the media.
Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: February 10, 2023
Brazil's social welfare system will require children to take COVID vaccines for payment under leftist President Lula.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Feb. 10, 2023 in Washington, D.C. A revamp of Brazil’s social welfare system, Bolsa Familia, will require acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition for recipients, Lula alluded in comments to the media. (Image: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The new far-left President of Brazil has said that recipients of the country’s social welfare program will have to ensure their children have accepted Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination or their aid will be terminated.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told attendees of an opening ceremony for a hospital in Rio de Janeiro that a social welfare program called “Bolsa Familia” is “coming back, and it is coming back with something important,” according to Feb. 7 reporting by The Rio Times.

The “something important,” Lula clarified, was “conditions,” such as, “The children have to be in school.” 

“If they are not in school, the mother loses the benefit,” he stated before adding, “The children have to be vaccinated. Suppose they don’t have a vaccination certificate. In that case, the mother will lose the benefit.”


The outlet said that vaccine acceptance as a condition for welfare recipients was a promise Lula campaigned upon during his defeat of Jair Bolsonaro.

The Rio Times clarified, however, that, “The president didn’t explain if the covid vaccine will also be required from children or just the doses of the traditional vaccines, which are part of the child vaccination calendar.”

Bolsa Familia is a program that isn’t a Lula brainchild, however. Instead, the initiative “has technical and financial support” from the World Bank, according to an article on its website.

But the World Bank’s information on the program is from 2010, as Bolsa Familia ran inside of Brazil for almost two decades until Bolsonaro vetoed it at the end of 2021, replacing the program with one called Auxilio Brasil, according to an article from Portuguese-language website G1 Globo.

The article stated that Bolsonaro’s Auxilio Brasil program would only provide aid to the most extremely impoverished citizens, earning less than 210 reals ($~40 USD) per month.

The program also required an impoverished family to have either a nursing mother or pregnant woman and to have members aged under 21 either in school or having completed school.

While the Auxilio Brasil program also required “compliance with the national vaccination schedule and monitoring of nutritional status,” according to G1 Globo, the concern for Brazilians appears to be that the Lula-reinstated program will focus on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine acceptance.

The worries come from comments by Lula himself, who stated at the event,  “We can’t hesitate; we can’t play around. It is a question of science. If there are ten covid vaccines, 50 to take, I will take as many as necessary because I like my life.”

Lula added, “I think everyone has a duty to their children’s life, take them [to vaccinate] at the right age,” said the Times.

The Times also stated, “Bolsa Família stopped requiring the vaccination of children up to 6 years old when the Bolsonaro government reformulated it.”

Lula’s revamped initiative is lucrative for families to comply with, as it will increase government subsidies from the 600 reals per month paid under Bolsonaro’s administration by adding an additional 150 reals per month for each child aged under 6.

The program is also highly prolific. According to data from the Inter-American Development Bank, in 2015, Bolsa Familia provided income to almost 14 million Brazilians, amounting to 25 percent of the entire population.

The news caused alarm among some English social and web media users, such as website Activist Post, who equated the welfare program’s COVID vaccine requirement to a universal basic income system gated by a Chinese Communist Party-style social credit system.

And yet, gating social benefits to vaccine passports is not news.

Since the COVID vaccines were released, in the English-speaking developed world, acceptance of the injections has been linked to necessities far wider than social welfare.

In September of 2021, Canada’s University of Alberta told a 56-year-old woman who sat on a lung transplant waitlist for two years that if she didn’t accept the vaccine she would be removed from the list and be left to her disease’s natural course of progress.

In October of 2021, Hessen, a state in Germany, began to allow grocery stores to bar those who could not or would not show their COVID vaccine passport from entry.

At the end of 2021, Italy went so far in emulating the CCP’s social credit system that vaccine passports became a requirement for private sector workers to continue to be employed.

A similar edict was deployed in New York City.

In 2019, Wired wrote an article on the Chinese government’s social credit system, which explained, “China’s social credit system has been compared to Black Mirror, Big Brother and every other dystopian future sci-fi writers can think up.”

“The reality is more complicated — and in some ways, worse,” they stated.

The outlet elaborated that while westerners at the time were mostly familiar with basic credit checks for auto loans, mortgages, and credit cards, “China’s social credit system expands that idea to all aspects of life, judging citizens’ behaviour and trustworthiness.”

“Caught jaywalking, don’t pay a court bill, play your music too loud on the train — you could lose certain rights, such as booking a flight or train ticket,” the authors continued.

In Ukraine, shortly after the war with Russia began at the beginning of 2022, the Zelensky administration began to roll out a hybrid social credit and digital currency system called Diia.

Diia was similar in nature to both the CCP’s and Brazil’s system in that it offered voluntary takers of the COVID injections 1,000 hryvnia ($34 USD) for the main course and 500 hryvnia for booster acceptance.

However, funding was neither paid in cash nor in the form of a government stimulus check, but as a points-style voucher that existed only in the Diia app.

Diia featured another important characteristic in that its funds could not be spent freely in society. In certain cases, the digital hryvnia could only be converted into items such as books printed at state-approved publishers.