Alert! Low vaccination boosts polio return

posted on 03/15/2022 06:00

The droplet campaign is the greatest weapon against the advance of polio - (credit: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil)

The droplet campaign is the greatest weapon against the advance of polio – (credit: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil)

If vaccination managed to stop the advance of covid-19, the same cannot be said of other diseases that were previously eradicated, but which are at risk of returning due to low immunization coverage. This is the case of poliomyelitis, whose vaccination coverage dropped dramatically from 2012 to 2021 in Brazil. The alert is from the Brazilian Society of Immunizations (SBIm).

“What we see is that, normally, this return happens in the form of outbreaks in countries that had already eliminated polio and that had low vaccine coverage for the disease”, warned the vice president of SBIm, Isabella Ballalai. This is the case of Brazil, which, in 2021, had vaccination coverage of 67.71%, considering the first three doses of the vaccine, which must be applied in the first year of the child’s life. In 2012, the reach of immunization was 96.55%.

The polio vaccine coverage target is 95%. Isabella points out that, in addition to the low vaccination coverage, another factor that increases the risk of return is the low surveillance of cases of acute flaccid paralysis, which is a characteristic of the disease. “This surveillance needs to be improved so that there is rapid detection and adoption of response measures before it becomes an outbreak. This low surveillance with low vaccine coverage increases the risk of polio returning to Brazil,” she said.

In a note, the Ministry of Health reported that “Brazil has intensified the actions of immunization and epidemiological surveillance of poliomyelitis among the target audience”. “The folder monitors the progress of vaccination coverage and recommends states, municipalities and the Federal District to carry out an active search for vaccination”, he stressed.

However, for the vice president of SBIm, it is necessary for the federal government to invest in communication again so that the vaccination coverage of polio, and other diseases, grows again.

“When there is communication, it is poor communication, which is limited to calling for vaccinations. People need to understand what is happening and realize the risk they run if they do not take their children to the vaccination posts”, criticized Isabella.

She enumerated the risks of living in an environment with a polio outbreak. “It is a very communicable disease, which can lead to death, which leads to paralysis and which can leave sequels for the rest of your life. The polio virus does not only affect the leg muscle; it affects the breathing muscles as well. ranging from paralysis of a limb to the person being in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives”, he exemplified.

According to the ministry, “the dissemination of information on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines as a public health measure is part of actions carried out throughout the year”. Countries such as Malawi, in Africa, and Israel have shown an advance in the presence of the disease.

Covid: precarious coverage

If in relation to poliomyelitis vaccination leaves something to be desired, in relation to covid-19 some rates of vaccination coverage are also below the desired. A survey carried out by the Extraordinary Secretariat for Combating the Covid-19 Pandemic (Secovid) of the Ministry of Health pointed out that only 37.81% of the public over 18 years of age – that is, 60.5 million Brazilians – took the booster dose. immunizer against covid-19. For now, booster vaccination is only recommended for adults.

According to the folder, among the states that have more people able to take the “extra” dose who have not yet returned to vaccination posts are São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro. The booster dose has been recommended for the entire Brazilian adult population since November last year. Citizens should look for health posts to take the additional dose at least four months after the application of the second dose.

The ministry’s survey also indicated that 91.12% of the population over 12 years old took the first dose of the vaccine and 84.46% of the same public completed the vaccination schedule.

new drug

To seek new fronts to combat covid-19, the ministry opened, yesterday, a public consultation to evaluate the incorporation of baricitinib, a drug for the treatment of covid-19, in the Unified Health System (SUS). The inclusion of the drug, approved by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), was recommended by the National Commission for Incorporation of Technologies in the SUS (Conitec).

Contributions from experts and society can be made, on the official Conitec page, until March 24th. The committee’s assessment indicates baricitinib for adults, hospitalized and requiring oxygen by mask or nasal catheter. The drug is registered in Brazil for the treatment of moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis and moderate to severe atopic dermatitis.

(With MEC)

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