University of São Paulo: Drop in children’s immunization coverage worries experts

Technical note issued by Fiocruz and experts point out challenges to expand vaccination of children in Brazil. In an interview with Jornal da USP in Ar 1st edition , professor Marta Heloísa Lopes, from the Department of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases at the USP School of Medicine and responsible for the Immunization Center at Hospital das Clínicas, comments on the risks of stagnating the pediatric dose against covid-19.

According to the professor, “there are several things that are influencing these very worrying numbers, not only the drop in vaccine coverage, in general, but also specifically now of covid-19 for children. I think we can’t help but say that one of the things that are contributing to this is the lack of incentives in the SUS (Unified Health System). The SUS was much talked about and undoubtedly plays a very important role in containing the covid-19 pandemic. But at the same time, we have seen that we don’t have new hires, we don’t have incentives for people in general. We can’t take something in isolation. There are undoubtedly some isolated factors influencing vaccination coverage, but this is part of a larger whole, we are having problems in the SUS as a whole, throughout Brazil”.

The lack of new hires and the overload of services are some of the problems pointed out by Marta. “People are working at the limit of their capacity, new tasks have been added during this period. So, I think this is one of the things that we need to emphasize a lot, in addition to the other particularities that people often comment, movements against the vaccine, vaccine hesitation, which is not an anti-vaccine behavior, but it is a hesitation , ‘is it worth it, do I do it’. So, all this added up, unfortunately, is reflected in this scenario. Imagine that less than 40% of children, both in the municipality of São Paulo and in the State of São Paulo, have received the second dose of the covid vaccine so far.”

With the circulation of the omicron, more cases were identified in children and adolescents than in previous variants, but even so, not in the same proportion of the risks caused in the elderly or patients with comorbidities. cannot have a serious illness and, in addition to the risk to the child, they serve as a vehicle for transmitting this virus to other people and to more vulnerable people. Unfortunately, we are seeing, as the pandemic passes, that the elderly respond less to vaccines, they probably lose protection more quickly. See, in about a year, we’re going for the fourth dose of the vaccine. We don’t have any other vaccine strategy in which in a year the individual receives four doses of the vaccine, showing that this protection is not a long-term protection, so,

Vaccination coverage

Marta warns about the intense vaccination campaign, planned for next Sunday, March 27th: “This Sunday, which is being called Vaccination Sunday here in São Paulo, the covid vaccine is for anyone who is not up to date with your vaccine. Efforts are being focused on this age group, 5 to 11 years old, where we have these worrying numbers of children who have not received the second dose. But anyone who does not have their vaccination up to date for covid can and should go to the posts, which will also work in parks, to catch up on their vaccination “.

The teacher once again recalls the importance of vaccines and vaccine coverage: “The basic covid vaccination schedule is two doses. One dose does not lead to complete protection. So actually, a dose is almost a waste. I think this is what we need to keep in mind, because a vaccine was spent and what was intended was not achieved, that is, the protection of the person, the protection of the person predominantly for serious diseases and this was very clear in this omicron wave. When we had a large part of the adult population vaccinated, we had far fewer cases, far fewer hospitalizations and far fewer deaths, fortunately.”

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