The new secretary of Health and Environment Surveillance at the Ministry of Health, Ethel Maciel, said that this week she released the Covid vaccination campaign for the Yanomami population and other indigenous peoples in the country.
The focus is on health agents to actively seek to vaccinate this population before starting the official campaign on February 27th.
The folder’s intention is to make different strategies by regions of the country to reach the specificities of each place. In addition, the folder intends to trigger a wide communication scheme, with influencers, artists, politicians, religious leaders and teachers.
Ethel believes that 2023 will be a transition year to start improving vaccination coverage in the country. However, she considers that it will be a four-year job to reach high immunization rates.
The secretary said that there is the possibility of signing new contracts with Pfizer and the Butantan Institute and expanding the doses of the current contract with Fiocruz (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation). There are talks for Moderna’s vaccine to enter the portfolio of the Ministry of Health if it is approved by Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency) with the intention of accelerating vaccination.
How is the stock of Covid vaccines? The folder got regularize? A [Pfizer] pediatric and [Pfizer] baby we already ship to the states and municipalities, the stock is regularized. A child from six months onwards already has the vaccine at the health center to take. We will certainly have to start new contracts because, as we are going to run a campaign, we expect demand to increase a lot.
When you say that the stock is regularized, it is possible to start a mega vaccination campaign against Covid in any range age? We are carrying out the mobilization in phases, and this is linked to the [datas de] vaccine deliveries by companies. We are also having to make new contracts for purchases because the possibility of expanding the contracts signed by the previous government was very small. They were contract amendments.
Of these new contracts, which vaccines will be acquired? Pfizer baby, pediatric and bivalent. At Coronavac we bought the entire stock of 3 million focusing on the pediatric public, and we are making a new contract for another 10 million doses for the younger public. We still have a contract with AstraZeneca that makes new purchases possible. AstraZeneca has an update project for the bivalent, and we’ll follow up to see how the new purchases will be.
Are you thinking about acquiring Moderna’s vaccine? We are already talking with the company to acquire this vaccine, which is already being administered in other countries and has excellent effectiveness, but we cannot do anything before approval by Anvisa. We are interested in offering this vaccine to our population. Pfizer today does not have the volume that we need. Our problem is related to quantity, it is not a financial problem.
Moderna already has doses available? He has. Probably to speed up vaccination we would make the contract, but it is necessary to assess how many doses [vamos querer].
How is the stock of vaccines pediatric? We have stocks of vaccines in general. In the case of four vaccines —including BCG [contra tuberculose], which we found with zero stocks—, let’s make new purchases. Due to the acquisition of these doses, the vaccination campaign begins in May.
How many expired vaccines are in stock? We have the survey, but we did not disclose it because it is confidential. I think we have to provide transparency for this because it is public money and people have every right to know. And a little more [de 30 milhões]and it’s more [estoque contra] Covid. But I don’t know exactly how much.
The vaccination campaign will start on February 27 for the population in the risk group. What is the strategy to be able to serve a large number of people? We want to talk about the importance of vaccination as a whole, not focusing on Covid specifically because the campaign will be much bigger than that. In September, the PNI [Programa Nacional de Imunizações] it’s been 50 years, so it’s a symbolic year.
We intend to work with communication campaigns differentiated by region because we know that there are regional and cultural differences. The problem for low coverage is also different in relation to social classes. We have a decrease in coverage in the higher social classes. In the SUS user public, the greatest difficulty is operational —for example, the opening hours of the units.
What exactly will the communication strategy look like? Sound car, television, radio, WhatsApp, all media. I don’t know how to detail this part of WhatsApp, but the minister’s order [Nísia Trindade] is that we have a great campaign. We want to work with influencers, politicians, opinion leaders who can help with this awareness campaign. We will have to act on multiple fronts.
The campaign starts at the end of the month. It wasn’t supposed to be strong? We had no advertising company. We went through the entire hiring process, which ends today . There is also Carnival in between, so we are preparing the campaign for the event and focusing on sexually transmitted infections.
How to improve childhood immunization rates? Tsomething related to being able to attend public school if you are vaccinated, for example? The school employee often does not know how to look at the card to tell if the child has all the doses. It is necessary to improve the information system so that ConectaSUS gives a certificate that this child is able to be enrolled. Some states have laws that tie enrollment to the presentation of a certificate. The family needs to go to the health unit for the professional to read the card and issue the certificate, and this requires a little more work. According to the Child and Adolescent Statute, it is mandatory for the child to be vaccinated.
But this is not linked to access to school. Right? Today, if the child does not have a regularized card, the guardianship council can contact the parents. School is the place to do this. [fiscalização], the problem is how you inspect. To enroll, a vaccination card is required, but no one will know if that is right or not. Ideally, we wouldn’t even need to demand it. We need to regain people’s confidence in the vaccine.
Are you going to have a specific campaign for the Yanomami? We are carrying out a specific action for that emergency area. So, from the moment that [o município] receive the vaccine, you won’t have to wait until the 27th to start the application. How are the same people who [atendem a região emergencialmente e] apply the vaccine, it is more logical to start with this public that is more difficult to reach.
It is possible to say that the vaccination campaign for the Yanomami? It can be said that it started because we authorized it yesterday . It may be that the vaccine has not arrived at any unit, but they are already authorized to start vaccinating.
Do you expect coverage to improve even more in this year? We are considering 2023 as a year of transition. Our expectation is to improve coverage a lot, but the damage will not recover in the first year. It’s a four-year plan so that we can return to Brazil the high coverage we’ve always had. It is a very complex task because, unfortunately, disinformation tools have also innovated. It’s one thing to have someone speaking against the vaccine in a room with ten people, another is this amplification that the networks gave.
Lula said that he will ask evangelical leaders to support the campaigns of vaccination. How is the dialogue with religious leaders? For sure [vamos procurar líderes religiosos]. All leaders from all headquarters are important figures in the communities. They are trusted by the population.
There are vaccines that you are thinking of incorporating into this management, such as dengue? Butantan itself has developed vaccines against dengue fever and other diseases, especially neglected ones. The dengue vaccine, for example, can be incorporated into the Ministry of Health.
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