Childhood vaccination against influenza: Ministry of Health reduces the age range of national campaign

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Co-author: Natalia Schuengue. Pediatric Nurse at the Fernandes Figueira Institute • Master’s in Child Health at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Recently, the Ministry of Health released information about the 24th National Influenza Vaccination Campaign, which will take place from April 4 to June 3, 2022, with D-day for social mobilization, April 30. The next campaign will have a reduction in the children’s age group, which will be from six months to four years, 11 months and 29 days.

In 2021, the National Influenza Vaccination Campaign targeted children from six months to five years, 11 months and 29 days. In this sense, it is worth reflecting on the decision to reduce this age group based on the Technical Reports of the current and previous campaigns.

The minimization of viral load and the prevention of Influenza complications caused by immunization will reduce the burden on health units, reduce and alleviate symptoms that can be confused with Covid-19, in the priority groups of the Campaign. This fact further reinforces the importance of the Immunization Campaign against Influenza, in the period of pandemic in which we are living.

National influenza vaccination campaign in previous years

Between the years 2011 and 2013, the target audience for children with influenza vaccination were children aged between six months and one year, 11 months and 29 days. As of 2014, there was a change in relation to the age group, from six months to four years, 11 months and 29 days.

In 2019, the Ministry of Health expanded the child age group to include children up to five years, 11 months and 29 days old. This age group was maintained in the following years, until 2021.

The chart below shows influenza vaccine coverage across all age groups over the past two ten years. In this way, we can analyze vaccination adherence in this period:

Source: Brazil. Ministry of Health. Department of Health Surveillance (SVS) Department of Immunization and Surveillance of Communicable Diseases (DEIDT) General Coordination of the National Immunization Program (CGPNI). Technical Report 24th National Influenza Vaccination Campaign. Brasilia, 2022.

According to the graph, there was greater adherence to vaccination in the years 2011 to 2013 — when vaccination included children up to two years of age. It is important to mention that, in this age group, children are closer to the health unit to update their vaccination book and follow-up childcare. Furthermore, they are children who are not yet in school and their presence at home facilitates access to health services. In this context, there is a greater offer of accessibility and vaccination in these children, which resulted in the fulfillment of the vaccination target greater than 90% from 2011 to 2021.

Still with regard to the data in the graph, the age group from two years to those under nine years of age — also considering the vaccination of indigenous peoples, which is stipulated from six months to nine years — there was a visible reduction in doses applied in the year 2020 compared to 2019; in 2021, there was a slight increase. This fact may be related to the pandemic period, in which there was a reduction in rates of adherence to childhood immunization.

The flu: importance of vaccination in times of pandemic

National influenza vaccination campaign 2022

Regarding the child age group, the 24th National Influenza Vaccination Campaign will include children from six months to under five years of age (four years, 11 months and 29 days).

For children from five to 11 years of age who are in the priority groups to receive the influenza vaccine, the Ministry of Health emphasizes that, for this group, the covid-19 vaccine should be prioritized, since the two campaigns will be taking place in the same time course. Thus, the influenza vaccine must be rescheduled so that there is a minimum interval of 15 days between the influenza and covid-19 vaccines.

The Technical Report of the current campaign provided a timely assessment of the influenza infection rate in the previous year. According to the text, the age group most affected among cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) due to influenza in Brazil was 60 years or older, representing 52.1% (2,252) of cases.

Regarding immunization against Influenza in the child population, from two years to children under nine years of age, the technical report also clarifies that there was a reduction of almost two million doses in the year 2020 compared to the year 2019. However, in the year of By 2021, two million more doses were administered to this population. It is important to note that the five to nine-year range includes only children with comorbidities and indigenous peoples.

Thus, it is not clear why the age group for childhood immunization was reduced in the 24th National Influenza Vaccination Campaign, however, we can reflect that the conduct brings greater expectations for adherence to the vaccination campaign against covid-19, which was the most prevalent etiologic agent in SARS in children in 2021.

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# Brazil. Ministry of Health. Department of Health Surveillance (SVS) Department of Immunization and Surveillance of Communicable Diseases (DEIDT) General Coordination of the National Immunization Program (CGPNI). Technical Report 24th National Influenza Vaccination Campaign. Brasilia, 2022. Available at: Accessed on: 03/22/2022 # Technical Note No. 2/2022-SECOVID/GAB/SECOVID/MS. Take care of non-mandatory vaccination of children aged 05 to 11 against Covid-19 during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Available in: Accessed on: 03/23/2022 # PAHO. COVID-19 pandemic leads to major setback in childhood vaccination, new data from WHO and UNICEF show. 2021 Available at: https://www.paho.org/pt/noticias/15-7-2021-pandemia-covid-19-leva-grande-retrocesso-na-vacinacao-infantil-mostram-novos Access on: 25/ 03/2022 Brazil. Ministry of Health. Department of Health Surveillance (SVS) Department of Immunization and Surveillance of Communicable Diseases (DEIDT) General Coordination of the National Immunization Program (CGPNI). Technical Report 23rd National Influenza Vaccination Campaign. Brasilia, 2021. # Brazil. Ministry of Health. Department of Health Surveillance (SVS) Department of Immunization and Surveillance of Communicable Diseases (DEIDT) General Coordination of the National Immunization Program (CGPNI). Technical Report 22nd National Influenza Vaccination Campaign. Brasilia, 2020. # Brazil. Ministry of Health. Department of Health Surveillance (SVS) Department of Immunization and Surveillance of Communicable Diseases (DEIDT) General Coordination of the National Immunization Program (CGPNI). Technical Report 21st National Influenza Vaccination Campaign. Brasilia, 2019.

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