The wife of Brazil's unvaccinated president received a COVID-19 vaccine while in New York as part of her husband's delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, The New York Times reported Monday.
President Jair Bolsonaro disclosed the immunization of wife Michelle during a Facebook live chat after returning to Brazil, according to the Times.
"So what happened with my wife, just now in the United States. She came to me to ask: 'Should I take the vaccine or not?'" the 66-year-old president said during his weekly live chat Thursday. "I gave her my opinion. I'm not going to say what my opinion was. I'm going to say what she did. She took the vaccine.
"She's an adult, she's 39, she knows what she's doing, and she got the vaccine."
The president's office explained in a statement Friday night that all members of the delegation were required to take a COVID test before boarding the plane back to Brazil. The statement said, during the test, a doctor administering it asked Mrs. Bolsonaro if she would like to be vaccinated.
"Since she had already been thinking about getting a shot, she decided to accept," the office's statement said.
Some Brazilians took the first lady's vaccination as disrespecting her country's own health system, the Times said.
"I congratulate Mrs. Michelle, who, unlike her husband, was vaccinated," Sen. Omar Aziz told Brazilian media, but "someone should have told her that the vaccine applied in the United States is the same as in Brazil." (In addition to the vaccines approved in the U.S., Brazil also has used the Coronavac and AstraZeneca vaccines.)
Bolsonaro has declined to be vaccinated, saying his own recovery from a COVID-19 infection last year gave him resistance to a recurrence.
Bolsonaro defied a U.N. honor system requiring proof of vaccination when he became the first leader to address the General Assembly last Tuesday, the beginning of an annual high-level week of speeches by representatives of its 193 members.
The Brazilian delegation's visit also created an uproar from a widely circulated photograph showing Bolsonaro and subordinates eating pizza on a New York City sidewalk. (The city requires proof of vaccination for indoor restaurant dining.)
Upon returning home, four members of Bolsonaro's entourage have tested positive for COVID-19. They included the president's son Eduardo, and Brazil's health minister Marcelo Queiroga.
Queiroga, who said he had been fully vaccinated, was diagnosed while in New York and remained in isolation in a hotel.
The potentially infectious Brazilians prompted U.N. officials to notify all diplomats who might have been in contact with them. A U.N. spokesman said, as of Monday, none had reported testing positive.
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