The fight against polio: More than 400 children in the valley have not been vaccinated

In his right hand, Paolo Renato Johan, 73, carries a cane. At the age of 3, after being infected with poliomyelitis, Lazedo residents lost some of their foot mobility, and seven decades later, the child is still struggling with the consequences of paralysis.

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In the 50’s, when I was a child, there was no information about the disease, and vaccines came only later. Therefore, today, in the face of national concern over the low vaccine coverage against the virus in Brazil, he has further emphasized the importance of vaccination.

Paolo Renato was a healthy boy, the strongest of his brothers. But after the infection, he had to learn to walk again. Between treatment, travel to Porto Alegre, and family care, he attended school and became friends.

She remembers that the school was about 2 km away from her parents’ house and she was always helped to travel. “The strongest friends took me back. Once it was in a wheelbarrow, “he recalled.

At the age of 20, already with a technical course in accounting, he took part in a public contest for mayor of Lazedo. From 1971 to 2007, he was an employee of the municipality, working in the treasury department and accounting. Today, Paolo Renato is married and has a son.

World Warning

The first outbreak of poliomyelitis in Brazil occurred in 1911, in Rio de Janeiro. Vaccines were later introduced in 1955 and 1960. One year later, the first mass vaccination was started and in 1994, Brazil received the certificate of eradication of the disease.

Today, however, he worries again. Twenty-eight years later, with low demand for vaccines, Brazil again ranks among the top eight Latin American countries with the highest risk of infection due to low vaccination coverage.

At least 5 lakh children in the country have not been vaccinated. Vaccination coverage, which reached 95% of Brazilian territory, is today one of the lowest numbers registered in history: 67%. Since 2015, countries and targets have not been able to reach the target of 95% of vaccinated visitors, the ideal number for the population is considered safe.

Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Paraguay, Suriname and Venezuela are the other seven countries at risk, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). A few years ago, polio resurfaced in Israel, and on the 17th, health authorities in Malawi reported the first wild polio case in Africa in more than five years.

In the valley

The scene also alerts the Valle du Takuari municipality. According to the state health department, in 2021, the region reached 89.41% vaccination coverage, which corresponds to 3930 infants, including the first dose at the prescribed age: at two months of age. Of the 38 municipalities in the valley, 467 have not been vaccinated.

According to the state health department, 18 municipalities have reached or passed the target. Other cities reached 41.38%, such as Progresso, and 98.8%, in Teutonia. The Department of Health, however, opposes the information and claims that all children in the municipality have been vaccinated.

Juliana DeMarchi, coordinator of epidemiological surveillance at Lazedo, highlights that since the start of the campaign against the disease, the goal has not been achieved in the municipality alone last year. Vaccination coverage reached 85.23% during this period.

Neglect and misinformation are the main reasons for declining demand for immunizing agents. A 2019 Department of Health survey found that 59% of people who do not vaccinate their children point to factors such as forgetfulness, fear of side effects, and lack of time.

Life of the paralyzed

Polio is an acute infectious disease that affects neurons in the spinal cord and brain stem, according to infectious disease specialist Christian Pimentel Hernandez. It is transmitted through the fecal-oral route or through the secretions flowing through the mouths of infected people.

From severe weakness associated with joint pain to meningitis and more severe cases, patients may progress to paralytic disease, respiratory failure, and death.

“The life of a child paralyzed person is quite challenging with daily difficulties. People with the disease may have paralysis of one leg, talking muscles and swallowing – not being able to communicate and eat properly “, the professional emphasizes.

Also, they may have difficulty urinating, have muscle atrophy and osteoporosis, which requires the use of a wheelchair.

Vaccination is the only way to prevent it and all children under the age of five must be vaccinated. Immunizers are given throughout the year at health centers, and are prescribed in three doses for children under 1 year of age: the first at 2 months, then the other two at 4 and 6 months, all of which are injectable. Protection is completed with two boosters of the oral vaccine at 15 months and 4 years.

Campaign

Rotary International is the organization that finances the polio vaccine worldwide and its main banner is virus eradication. Active in the community, the Rotary Club of Arroyo do Mayo promotes the “Polio Can” campaign, which is distributed to city stores for fundraising purposes. The club also organized Pedalda Contra Polio in October last year.

According to Juliana Gasparotto, the club’s president-elect for 2022/2023, this year, the organization is already preparing new steps to fight the disease.

In Lazedo, the municipality plans to intensify immunization starting June 4 Thus, on the first Saturday of every month, the health center of the center will be open for routine vaccination from 8 am to 2 pm.


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