Brazil wonders about whereabouts of vaccine mascot

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Rumors and conspiracy theories swirled this week regarding the whereabouts of Zé Gotinha, the mascot for Brazil’s national vaccination program. Gotinha, whose name translates roughly as “Joe Droplet”, was created in the 1980s to help the health ministry promote vaccination against the polio virus and put children at ease. The last time the costumed Gotinha was seen publicly in a ceremony in Brasilia was Dec. 16, launching the national vaccination program against COVID-19 in the capital Brasilia. The clamor surrounding Gotinha began after former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva drew attention to his recent absence.