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4 out of 10 children have not had a polio vaccine; Campaign ends this Friday (30)


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The polio vaccination campaign will end this Friday (30) without reaching the federal government’s goal of immunizing 95% of children aged 1 to 5 years in the country. Until this Thursday (29), only 54% of this target audience were immunized against the disease.

The action started on August 8 and was supposed to end on September 9, but the Ministry of Health chose to extend it due to low demand rates. At that time, only 35% of children had been immunized.

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With the postponement, the multi-vaccination campaign – which includes the immunizer against polio – is scheduled to end this Friday (30), but still far from the goal.

The Ministry of Health states that “it makes efforts to increase vaccination coverage, in order to guarantee the protection of the population and keep the country free from the disease”.

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Polio can cause different complications in infected children, such as paralysis of the arms and legs and problems with the respiratory system.

In the PNI (National Immunization Program), the vaccination schedule consists of five applications. The first dose should be taken at two months of age. The second is applied at four months and the third at six. All three of these applications are from the injectable vaccine, called Salk.

In addition to them, there are two boosters: the first at 15 months and the second at four years of age. These last two applications are made with the vaccine in drops, known by the name Sabin.

This is not the first time Brazil has faced low rates of vaccination coverage against polio. The last time the country reached the goal of vaccinating at least 95% of the target population was in 2015.

“It’s a problem that’s been around for a few years and it’s not just a factor involved,” says Patrícia Boccolini, coordinator of VAX*SIM, a study by the Observa Infância project that investigates the drop in immunization coverage in children under five.

Maintaining a high vaccination rate is the main tool to prevent polio from returning to Brazil. The last case of the disease in the country was in 1989, but it is still endemic in some regions of the planet. In addition, new records of the virus have been occurring in countries that had no occurrences for years, such as the United States.

The transmission of poliovirus, the pathogen that causes the disease, occurs from person to person. One of the ways is through contact with secretions expelled from the patient’s mouth. Another way is to have contact with materials contaminated by feces infected by the virus.

“If we had a high vaccine coverage as we had before, it would be very difficult for the virus to get here”, says Boccolini.

She says that there are some explanations for Brazil having difficulty in covering vaccination. One of them is related to the inadequate dissemination of the vaccination campaign. “It doesn’t have a lot of breadth,” she says.

According to her, it would be necessary to develop advertising pieces with greater appeal to the population. The materials also need to explain the risks involved in not vaccinating children, such as the sequelae that the disease can cause.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Health claims that the national campaign had different tools to raise awareness among the population. Among them, the folder draws attention to “dissemination, mobilization, alerts and monitoring actions”.

Boccolini also says that another factor involved in the low coverage could be the reduced hours of operation of health centers. This problem tends to be circumvented in national campaigns, which call for vaccinations on weekends.

constant vaccination

Another point necessary to increase the rates is to communicate to parents that it is not only during the national campaign that it is possible to immunize children. According to the Ministry of Health, “vaccination will continue normally at health posts across the country after the end of the campaign”.

Luíza Arlant, president of the Technical Chamber for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication in Brazil with PAHO/WHO (World Health Organization), says that, regardless of the national campaign, “we must continue to encourage vaccination”.

Arlant also believes the reasons for the low coverage are manifold. Regarding the communication of the current campaign, she says it was well executed.

“It was a campaign to have a 95% adhesion, but that was not what was seen”, he says.

regional differences

The country as a whole faces the difficulty of increasing vaccination coverage, but some states have a greater shortage. While Paraíba reached 86% of immunized children, Roraima only has 23% coverage within this age group.

For Arlant, it is important that measures to improve coverage in Brazil also consider greater homogeneity between the regions of the country. “It’s no use for a neighborhood in São Paulo to do 95% of vaccination and a municipality in the interior to do 20%.”

PNI vaccination schedule

  • 1st dose: two months old (injectable vaccine)
  • 2nd dose: four months (injectable vaccine)
  • 3rd dose: six months (injectable vaccine)
  • 1st reinforcement: 15 months (vaccine in drops)
  • 2nd reinforcement: 4 years (vaccine in drops)

vaccination campaign

  • When: until Friday (30)
  • Where: More than 40 thousand vaccination posts
  • Who can get vaccinated: Children from 1 year to under 5 years old
  • Who can’t go: You must go to a health center at any time to take the doses
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