In 2021, Ceará had a percentage of 53% application of MMR vaccine– which prevents measles, rubella and mumps – the worst percentage of vaccination coverage for the diseases in eight years. Since 2013, the state has also failed to meet the goal of vaccinating children with the second dose against measles. The data comes from the National Vaccination Program Information System (SI-PNI), transmitted to the THE PEOPLE by the Department of Health of the State of Ceará (Sesa).
The first dose of the MMR vaccine is given to children who have just turned 1 year old, and three months later the second or booster dose should be given.
The drop in numbers worries health professionals, as measles was considered eradicated from Brazil in 2016. Since then, epidemics eventually occur due to low vaccination coverage. According to epidemiologist Marcelo Gurgel, professor of public health at the State University of Ceará (Uece), measles is a cyclic disease with noticeable accumulation, and when the cover is irregular, it tends to reappear every two or three years.
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“Ceará has a history of coverage percentages above 100%, but this may reflect a miscalculation of the vaccinated population: either it was smaller than what exists, or they had more children than I do. estimated. The other thing that can happen is the number of children accumulates from one year to the next, i.e. children who should have been vaccinated the previous year are vaccinated the following year “says Gurgel.
From 2019 to 2020, the amount of D2 applied decreased by approximately 16%; and from 2020 to 2021 they were 18% lower. With the onset of the pandemic in 2019, it was expected that the following year would have the lowest percentage vaccinated, but that did not happen.
“What has happened in 2021 is the increase in Covid-19 cases among children, following the natural trend of worry. The adult population has acquired some degree of immunity after the vaccine and it’s time for children to come into contact with the virus,” he theorizes.
Low D2 measles coverage
While 2020 and 2021 data is subject to change, Gurgel doesn’t believe there will be any major changes. “That 53% D2 coverage may increase, but even so it will be nowhere near the historical coverage it had,” he says.
According to the specialist, “people think that if they take the first dose, they have already had the vaccine”. It’s a behavioral problem in people who already feel safe with just one dose. The structure of the National Immunization Program is a nationally and internationally recognized model, which has encouraged premonitions and studies.
“It’s worrying because measles is a serious disease and has a disastrous effect on mortality, causing pneumonia that leads to death, and long-term blindness,” Gurgel says.
“Brazil had the luxury of being proud to say that Brazilians who went to Japan had to be vaccinated against measles there. We vaccinated our footballers to go to Japan, because they were going to a country where I still had measles. Measles coverage, in fact, more than ten years ago was very good coverage. Today, there are already cases that prove that the disease is coming back, unfortunately, “adds he.
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