Falling five years ago, vaccination coverage has not reached any goal in the children’s calendar since 2018, presented today (16) the general coordinator of the National Immunization Program (PNI) of the Ministry of Health, Francieli Fontana, who reported data from the beginning of October at the National Immunization Day.
The last immunization targets for children reached in the country, in 2018, were 99.72% of the target audience for BCG, and 91.33% for the vaccine against human rotavirus. For both, the goal is to exceed 90%, a level that was not reached in 2019, despite having remained above 80%. By October 2, 2020, the BCG target audience’s immunization rate reached 63.88%, and the rotavirus vaccine, 68.46%.
The highest coverage achieved in the children’s calendar until October 2020 was in the Pneumococcal vaccine, with 71.98%. Last year, that same vaccine reached 88.59% of the target audience. Among the 15 vaccines in the children’s calendar, which includes the second dose of the Triple Viral, half have not met the targets since 2015, which includes the polio vaccine.
The drop in vaccination coverage during the pandemic was a phenomenon that was felt globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 125 vaccination campaigns that were scheduled for the first half of 2020 have been postponed. The problem of interruption of vaccination services has prompted WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) to warn that 117 million children in 37 countries could stop receiving the measles vaccine, which has also caused outbreaks in several parts the world in recent years, including Brazil.
The drop in coverage challenges the National Program for Immunizations of the Unified Health System, considered one of the most extensive and successful in the world. The program had a significant increase in vaccination rates between 1980 and 1995, the year after which rates were stable at high levels, and, in some cases, above 100%. The setback started in 2015, and before the pandemic, factors such as opening hours of health units, the circulation of false information about the safety of vaccines and even the impression that immunopreventable diseases have ceased to exist already weighed.
Among the actions of the Ministry of Health to combat the fall in vaccine coverage is the Vaccine Brazil Movement, which includes initiatives such as expanding the opening hours of vaccination stations and a telephone and Whatsapp to deny false news, at 61 99289-4640. Three vaccination campaigns are also underway: one against measles, since March, and the campaigns against polio and multivaccination, since 5 October. Tomorrow (17), for D-Day, vaccination posts throughout Brazil will be open to apply the doses, answer questions and update the cards.