30% of children are without vaccines against fatal diseases – 27/04/2022 – Equilíbrio e Saúde

For every ten Brazilian children, three have not received vaccines against potentially fatal diseases, according to a survey carried out by Unicef ​​(United Nations Children’s Fund).

The study used data from the PNI (National Immunization Plan) of children under five in all regions of the country.

The numbers show that immunization against the MMR, which includes measles, mumps and rubella, dropped from 93.1% in 2019 to 71.49% in 2021. Polio coverage fell from 84.2%, in 2019, to 67.7%, in 2021.

The drop in vaccine coverage has been happening since 2015, but the situation has worsened amid the Covid-19 pandemic. For UNICEF health officer Stephanie Amaral, many families ended up not taking their children to vaccinate due to fear of being infected.

“The health crisis exacerbates a situation that was already being observed”, she says, pointing out that, in 2015, the coverage of MMR and poliomyelitis was above 95%.

According to Amaral, studies by Unicef ​​itself point out that the main reason for non-vaccination is misinformation. As many of these diseases have been eliminated in the country, people end up forgetting that they exist and give up on immunization, she says. An example is polio, which had the last case recorded in Brazil in 1989.

“New mothers, fathers and health professionals have not had contact with these diseases and there is this tendency to think that everything is fine, that they no longer need to vaccinate because these diseases are not seen anymore”, she says, warning that this is a wrong thinking.

Amaral even makes a parallel with what happened with Covid-19. “It was a disease that started on one continent and spread to all the others because we live in a globalized world,” she says. Likewise, she follows, diseases such as polio and measles are still circulating in some countries. The lack of vaccination, therefore, could leave Brazil vulnerable to their return.

She also recalls that measles was once considered eradicated in Brazil, but ended up returning – in 2019, there were more than 20,000 cases.

In addition to misinformation, another explanation for the lack of adherence to vaccination is the fear of adverse reactions. Amaral, however, says that the risks for this type of reaction are very low. “A child is much more likely to be harmed by a disease than a vaccine.”

The numbers indicate that the northern region of Brazil has the most worrying situation. Amapá, for example, only vaccinated 42.9% of children against polio in 2021 and 58.3% with the MMR.

Amaral says that another state that has raised an alert is Rio de Janeiro, which, in 2021, only registered 52.3% of children’s vaccination against poliomyelitis and 56% with the MMR.

The decline in vaccination coverage has been recorded in other parts of the world. In Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, thousands of measles cases have also been recorded.

“Studies show that in Europe there was also a decrease in vaccination coverage, but there it is more associated with fake news, families that already have a better financial situation and decide not to vaccinate their children because they believe in other treatments”, says the health official. .

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