Government expands groups of children who can be vaccinated against HPV and meningitis

Government expands groups of children who can be vaccinated against HPV and meningitis

Used in more than one hundred countries as a strategy to prevent and reduce diseases caused by the virus, such as cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anal region, penis and oropharynx, the vaccine that protects against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) will be permanently applied to 9 and 10 year old boys, a new age group incorporated into the target audience.

Under the Unified Health System (SUS), immunization against HPV was only available in two doses (with an interval of six months between each one) for girls aged 9 to 14 years and boys aged 11 to 14 years. With the change, vaccination is now applied to everyone in the age group between 9 and 14 years of age, regardless of sex.

Vitória was the first city in the state to start vaccinating children. Credit: André Sobral/Victoria City Hall

Incorporated in a staggered manner into the SUS as of 2014, the vaccine is still applied in adolescence because it is more favorable for vaccination to be carried out before the person has sexual activity.

People living with HIV/AIDS, transplants of solid organs, bone marrow and cancer patients, all between 9 and 26 years of age, can also receive the immunizer free of charge. For these patients, three doses are required, with intervals of two and six months after the first.

Virus transmitted by sexual intercourse or by direct contact with infected skin or mucous membranes, HPV is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer, for more than 90% of anal cancer cases and for 63% of penile cancers, in addition to part of other types of tumors, such as those of the throat, vulva and vagina.

Also according to the Ministry of Health, it is estimated that Brazil has at least 10 million people infected with the Human Papillomavirus and that, every year, 700,000 new cases of the infection appear. Worldwide, about 105 million people are positive for HPV 16 or 18.

Meningococcal ACWY

Based on research that shows that meningococcal vaccines demonstrate a more robust immune response in adolescents, with the persistence of protective antibodies for a prolonged period, the Ministry of Health also decided to temporarily offer the ACWY meningococcal vaccine for the age group vaccinated between 11 and 14 years.

According to the federal government, such evidence supported the National Immunization Program (PNI) to include in the National Vaccination Calendar the administration of booster doses with meningococcal conjugate vaccines during adolescence.

The immunizer against meningitis is available in the National Vaccination Calendar for adolescents between 11 and 12 years old, but until June 2023, those between 13 and 14 years old will also be able to receive the dose. According to the folder, the expansion aims to reduce the number of carriers of the bacteria in the nasopharynx.

The Ministry of Health also states that it distributes the meningococcal ACWY vaccine (conjugate) monthly to the States. The indication is to take a dose or booster, according to the vaccination situation.

According to the folder, the age group at greatest risk of illness are children under one year of age, but adolescents and young adults are primarily responsible for maintaining the circulation of the disease. For children aged 3 months to 12 months, the vaccine offered by SUS remains Meningococcal C.

Meningococcal meningitis is transmitted by a group of bacteria called meningococci, and causes inflammation of the meninges, the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Transmission occurs through the respiratory tract, that is, through the air. It can leave neurological, hearing and chronic pain sequelae.

In Brazil, the most common is type C (which involves 80% of cases), followed by type B. Types A, W and Y are less frequent. Vaccines are considered the best way to prevent meningitis and are specific for each serogroup.

MENINGOCOCCAL C VACCINE

Since July, the PNI also recommends the expansion of the public able to receive the meningococcal vaccine C (Conjugate), which involves health workers and children up to 10 years old. The target audience is extended until February 2023 and aims to protect the population against serogroup C meningococcal disease.

The immunizer is part of the National Vaccination Calendar, with two doses being indicated, at 3 and 5 months of age and a booster preferably at 12 months of age. According to the new guidance from the Ministry of Health, if children up to 10 years old have not been vaccinated, they should take a dose of meningococcal C. Health workers, even with the complete vaccination schedule, can be vaccinated with one more dose.

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