The announcement comes amid the rise in the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Brazil – although the number of deaths remains low.
At the beginning of the month, those over 50 could receive another booster dose, as well as immunosuppressed and health workers of all ages.
The recommendation is to wait four months after the first booster (third dose) to be vaccinated again.
According to the ministry, immunization must be done with vaccines from Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Janssen.
About 120 million people able to take the second dose or the booster dose have not yet returned to vaccination posts across the country, the ministry said.
Health experts warn that they not only remain unprotected against the serious manifestations of the Covid-19 infection, but also delay control of the pandemic – because the greater the circulation of the virus, the greater the chance of it mutating and generating new variants. , which can, in turn, reduce the effectiveness of immunizers, putting the rest of the population at risk.
Below, what you need to know about vaccination for over 40s.
The Ministry of Health recommends that people over 40 years of age be vaccinated with the second booster dose (the fourth dose) against Covid-19.
“In addition to expanding the target population of the second booster, the reason we are here today is to call on the Brazilian population to look for a vaccination post and take their dose”, said Arnaldo Medeiros, national secretary of Health Surveillance, on the second Monday, during the release of the balance of vaccination against Covid-19.
According to the Ministry of Health, there are about 8.79 million people between 40 and 49 years old who received the third dose more than four months ago and who will now be able to return to vaccination posts.
In this age group, however, only 8.53% had already taken the first booster dose.
2) Why should I take the second booster dose (fourth dose)?
As the Ministry of Health explains in its technical note, “Brazilian data demonstrate the decrease in the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines for symptomatic cases by the ômicron variant (prevalent in Brazil) observed after 90 days of homologous boosters (when the same vaccine is applied) and heterologous (when a vaccine different from the initial regimen is applied). However, the decline in effectiveness against severe cases was only observed after homologous boosters”.
This reduction in effectiveness is more prevalent in older people and can be explained, in part, by the natural aging of the immune system.
Therefore, according to the Ministry, “differentiated strategies to ensure protection in older adults and the elderly must be routinely reassessed.”
In addition, studies have shown that, after the application of the second booster dose, there is a considerable increase in protection against the virus.
In Israel, for example, researchers compared the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines against severe disease caused by the omnin variant in individuals over 60 years of age who received one or two boosters. They noticed better protection in the group that received the second boost compared to those that received only the first boost.
Similar findings were seen in the UK, particularly in people over 70. In the country, the fourth dose is being offered to those aged 75 and over.
Finally, Covid-19 has gained ground in all regions of Brazil – most reported cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the last four weeks are due to infection with the new coronavirus (71.2%). Regarding SARS deaths, 96.4% of the notifications are related to Sars-CoV-2. The data are from the InfoGripe Bulletin of Fiocruz (Fundação Oswaldo Cruz).
“In this sense, encouraging vaccination for primary and booster regimens plays a fundamental role in containing the increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Therefore, as we advance in vaccine coverage against Covid-19 in the country, naturally the expansion of publics eligible for the second booster should be considered,” the Ministry said in the note.
In May, Brazil recorded 3,176 deaths from Covid-19, the lowest monthly number since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
Despite this, the moving average of new cases has continued to increase since the middle of that month.
3) What if I have had Covid recently?
Anyone who has recently tested positive for Covid-19 should wait at least four weeks to take the booster dose.
4) I was vaccinated with the fourth dose. Should I stop wearing a mask or practice social distancing?
Not. So-called non-pharmacological measures (distancing and wearing masks) remain vital for fighting the virus, as they reduce contagion.
What we should know about PFF2/N95 masks
Therefore, “they should be encouraged in the current epidemiological moment”, according to the Ministry of Health.
At the end of May, several cities in São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná issued decrees that once again oblige or recommend the use of masks in closed environments due to the increase in cases of Covid-19.
5) I am not yet 40 years old. When will I be able to take the fourth dose?
In a recent interview with the newspaper O Globo, the executive secretary of the Ministry of Health, Daniel Pereira, said that the ministry should release the fourth dose of the vaccine against Covid-19 for all Brazilians over 18 years old.
“Observing the behavior of the virus, we are heading towards having at least one (second) booster in the population over 18 years old,” he said.
It is not yet known, however, whether all age groups will have access to the immunizing agent through the SUS (Unified Health System) or through private clinics.
For now, the doses per group for any of the vaccines are:
- Over 40 years old: four doses
- 12 to 39 years old: three doses
- 5 to 11 years: two doses
This text was originally published in https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/brasil-61888267.