Goiania –The Goiás State Health Department (SES-GO) warns parents or guardians of children aged 6 months to under 5 years old to look for a health center closer to their homes where measles and influenza vaccines are being administered. . The Influenza and Measles Vaccination Campaign continues until June 6th in all municipalities in the state.
Vaccination coverage is low throughout the country and diseases that had been controlled and even eradicated in Brazil, precisely because of the high coverage in vaccination in the past, are reappearing and causing serious and life-threatening cases. These are still isolated cases of measles and diphtheria, for example, but they represent an imminent health risk due to the high transmissibility of these diseases.
According to the Secretary of Health, Sandro Rodrigues, the vaccine is one of the most important measures to ensure the health of the population, especially children. “Vaccine is protection, it is security. Vaccine saves lives”. He adds that the vaccines available to the population undergo long periods of testing. “They have already been studied, evaluated and validated by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa)“, he emphasizes.
The secretary also highlights that vaccines prevent the occurrence of serious cases of diseases that overwhelm the health system. The expansion of vaccination coverage of the child population and the consequent updating of the National Vaccination Card is one of the main goals of the state government.
Brazil received the Measles-Free Country Certificate, granted by the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2016. Two years later, with the reintroduction of the virus in Brazil, the country lost this certification. In 2019, five cases were recorded in Goiás, which reestablished a chain of transmission of the disease after 20 years without the circulation of the virus. This outbreak lasted from August 2019 to March 2020, when 20 cases of the disease were recorded in the municipalities of Goiânia, Aparecida de Goiânia, Anápolis, Posse and Rialma.
In 2020 and 2021, all suspected measles cases reported in Goiás were discarded. The Ministry of Health considers vaccination coverage of at least 95% as ideal. In Goiás, however, the MMR vaccination rates (which protect against measles, mumps and rubella) have been below the target since 2017, when they reached 80.99%. Last year, vaccination coverage was 76.92%. The National Measles Vaccination Campaign, which is underway, aims to immunize 425,748 out of a total of 448,156 children. Until last Friday (05/06), only 62,834 children had been immunized, equivalent to 14.02%.
Diphtheria, which had been controlled, returned to present isolated cases. The last record was from 1998. This year, an occurrence was recorded in Santa Helena de Goiás. Another four cases are under investigation. At the time, measures to prevent and control diphtheria were carried out by health professionals from the local Epidemiological Surveillance, with monitoring of contacts and tracking of suspected cases. Diphtheria is protected by the pentavalent vaccine. In 2021, the coverage of this vaccine in children was 71.98%.
From the beginning of the campaign on April 4 until Friday, 52,546 children aged 6 months to under 5 years were vaccinated against the disease, representing 11.7% of ideal coverage. Sandro Rodrigues notes that the child is susceptible to influenza due to the fragility of the immune system. “In the first five years of life, the body’s defense mechanisms are not yet developed. Therefore, it is essential to apply all specific vaccines to children provided for in the National Vaccination Calendar”, he reinforces.
In Brazil, the last case of poliomyelitis, a disease known as infantile paralysis, was recorded in 1989. In 1994, due to the success of national multi-vaccination campaigns and high vaccination coverage, the disease was considered eradicated in Brazil. Infantile paralysis has re-emerged in Israel and Malalui in southwest Africa. In Goiás, the vaccination coverage of the disease has been decreasing significantly for ten years. In 2012, the vaccination coverage rate was 101%. In 2018, it dropped to 85.54%. In 2021, it was 71.60%.
Director of the State Hospital for Children and Adolescents (Hecad), infectious disease specialist Mônica Ribeiro Costa links the decrease in childhood vaccine coverage rates to the fact that serious diseases are under control. Infantile paralysis was eradicated, measles was eliminated, and diphtheria controlled. The infectious disease specialist also highlights that the low vaccination coverage is related to the unfounded distrust on the part of the population regarding the efficacy and side effects of vaccines. She points out that, in addition to protecting the person individually, the vaccine guarantees collective protection. “When there are high rates of vaccination, the virus finds it difficult to circulate and, little by little, disappears”, she says.