The Goiás State Department of Health (SES-GO) warns parents or guardians of children under the age of 6 months to look for a health center near their home where the measles and influenza vaccine is being given. The influenza and measles vaccination campaign will run until June 6 in all municipalities in the state.
Vaccination coverage is low across the country and diseases that were controlled and even eradicated in Brazil, due to high vaccination coverage in the past, are re-emerging and causing serious and life-threatening events. These are still isolated cases of measles and diphtheria, for example, but they represent an impending health risk due to the high prevalence of these diseases.
According to Health Secretary Sandro Rodriguez, the vaccine is one of the most important steps in ensuring the health of the population, especially children. “Vaccine protection, it’s protection. Vaccines save lives. “He added that vaccines available to the population go through long-term testing.” These have already been studied, evaluated and verified by the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA), “he said.
The Secretary further highlighted that vaccines prevent the occurrence of severe cases of diseases that affect the health system. One of the major objectives of the state government is to expand immunization coverage of the child population and consequently to update the national immunization card.
Brazil received the Certificate of Measles-Free Country Award issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016. Two years later, with the relaunch of the virus in Brazil, the country lost this certificate. In 2019, five cases were recorded in Goa, which re-established a chain of transmission after 20 years without the spread of the virus. The outbreak lasted from August 2019 to March 2020, when 20 cases of the disease were recorded in the municipalities of Goiania, Aparesida de Goiania, Annapolis, Posey and Realma.
In 2020 and 2021, all suspected measles cases reported in Goa were ruled out. The Ministry of Health considers at least 95% vaccine coverage to be the norm. In Goiás, however, the MMR vaccination rate (which protects against measles, mumps and rubella) has been below the target since 2017, when they reached 80.99%. Last year, vaccine coverage was 76.92%. The national measles vaccination campaign, which is underway, aims to vaccinate 425,748 of the total 448,156 children. As of last Friday (05/06), only 62,834 children have been vaccinated, which is equivalent to 14.02%.
Diphtheria, which was controlled, has returned to its present isolated state. The last record was in 1998. An incident was recorded in Santa Helena de Goas this year. Four more cases are under investigation. At the time, diphtheria prevention and control measures were taken by health professionals from local epidemiological surveillance, including contact monitoring and tracking of suspected cases. Protected by diphtheria pentavalent vaccine. In 2021, coverage of this vaccine among children was 71.98%.
From the start of the April 4 campaign until Friday, 52,546 children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years were vaccinated against the disease, representing 11.7% of the standard coverage. Sandro Rodriguez noted 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 immune system has not yet developed. Therefore, it is imperative that all specific immunizations be given to children on the national immunization calendar, “he added.
In Brazil, the last case of poliomyelitis, a disease known as infantile paralysis, was recorded in 1989. In 1994, due to the success of the national multi-vaccine campaign and high vaccination coverage, the disease was considered eradicated in Brazil. Child paralysis has resurfaced in Israel and Malalui in southwestern Africa. In Goa, vaccination coverage of the disease has been declining 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%.
Infectious disease specialist Monica Ribeiro Costa, director of the State Hospital for Children and Adolescents (HACAD), has linked the decline in coverage of childhood vaccines to the fact that serious diseases are under control. Child paralysis was eradicated, measles was eradicated and diphtheria was controlled. Infectious disease experts further highlight that the low vaccine coverage is related to the population’s unfounded disbelief about the effectiveness and side effects of the vaccine. He noted that in addition to protecting the individual, the vaccine guarantees joint protection. “When there is a high rate of vaccination, the virus becomes difficult to transmit and gradually disappears,” he noted.
Secretary of Health – Government of Goa
Photo: Britto / Comnicação Setorial / SES-GO