According to data from the Juiz de Fora City Hall (PJF), only 41% of children have their polio vaccination properly updated. For specialists, this disease, which was eradicated in Brazil in 1994, has the potential to become a problem again if adequate vaccination coverage is not available. The alert is for the fact that polio is considered serious and can even lead to infantile paralysis and death if contagion exists.
The ideal coverage, according to the Ministry of Health, would be 95% for each of the immunizers that are administered. Mário Novaes, an infectious disease specialist and pediatrician, explains that this disease “is reappearing in some parts of the world, increasing the risk that it will also have contamination again in Brazil”. The severity of the scenario is confirmed by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which added the country to the list of countries at “high risk” of having outbreaks.
This disease is an acute infectious disease and is caused by a virus that lives in the intestine, called Poliovirus. As specialists Mário Novaes and Fernando Aarestrup explain, contamination occurs through direct contact with feces or from secretions eliminated through the mouth of people who have the disease, affecting children under four years of age more frequently and more severely. . In these cases, the symptoms are similar to other respiratory infections, with symptoms related to the gastrointestinal system.
According to PAHO, the disease is of concern mainly because one in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis and, among those affected, 5% to 10% die due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles. Mário Novaes explains that, even among cases in which the disease recovers, “the sequelae are serious and can be permanent throughout the individual’s life”.
Vaccine protects against severe cases and prevents spread
Immunologist Fernando Aarestrup explains that the polio vaccine strengthens the immune system and produces specific antibodies against the virus, preventing people who are infected from developing the disease – something that only happens when immunization rates are really high.
Also in 2018, according to DATA SUS, the disease had a coverage of 95.55% in the municipality, leaving the situation within the recommended situation. It is noted that there is a recent sharp drop in this performance, which can even be explained, according to the immunologist, by the context of social isolation of the pandemic. But he points out that, in this scenario, “that barrier formed for the virus to stop circulating among the population, ceases to exist”. In his view, therefore, it is necessary to recover this as soon as possible. “Right now, we are not at risk of having a polio pandemic, but the issue of keeping vaccination campaigns running is crucial to not letting that happen. The disease can come back at any time,” he says.
Immunization is available at UBSs in the city
The PJF vaccination campaign against polio started last Monday (8th) and continues until September 9th. The immunizing agent is available in all Basic Health Units (UBSs) in the city, and the target audience is children from one to four years, 11 months and 29 days of age.
Polio vaccines should be administered in three doses before children are one year old, being administered at two, four and six months with the inactivated polio vaccine (VIP). At 15 months, the child can receive the first booster with oral polio and, at four years, the second booster (VOP-droplet).
In addition to the polio vaccine, the UBSs are also carrying out multi-vaccination campaigns in the same places, for children and adolescents up to 14 years, 11 months and 29 days. Fernando Aarestrup explains that individuals who have missed the first doses must “take the vaccination card so that each case can be analyzed”.
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