posted on 06/04/2021 06:00
(credit: MINERVINO JUNIOR)
While the pace of vaccination against covid-19 begins to be intensified in Brazil, despite the difficulties, the Ministry of Health will start, on the 12th, the annual campaign of immunization against influenza. Experts heard by mail believe that immunization against the H1N1 virus can reduce the burden on the health system – since the flu has symptoms similar to those of covid-19, which often confuse patients and doctors -, but are concerned about the challenges that may arise with the realization of two large simultaneous campaigns.
Infectologist at the Ribeirão Preto Hospital das Clínicas Anna Christina Tojal believes that the greatest difficulty that the country will encounter will be organizing people so as not to cause crowds in health posts and vaccination rooms. “The great difficulty will be to organize this flow of people. In this sense, I think that clarification campaigns would be important, trying to organize or suggest times for people to get vaccinated, and make available external stations to give the injections ”, he suggested.
Even in the face of chaos because of the high transmission of the new coronavirus, it reinforces the importance of carrying out immunization against the flu, which is done in a single dose, at a time of pandemic. “What we cannot do is risk having two epidemics of respiratory viruses. Each municipality will need to think about its way to optimize and avoid agglomerations ”, he explained.
Dasa’s infectious disease specialist, Alberto Chebabo, assures that Brazil has the necessary expertise to carry out both campaigns. “The biggest challenge is to have the necessary structure of posts and personnel for two large campaigns, at a time when immunization against covid-19 is being intensified,” he noted. The intensification of dose distribution against covid-19 is natural, as the supply of drugs against the new coronavirus is being expanded in the country.
As the priority groups for influenza vaccination and covid-19 are similar, in order to avoid shocks between campaigns, one of the Ministry of Health’s ideas is not to vaccinate the elderly against influenza at this first moment, since those over 60 years is being immunized against the new coronavirus. Vaccination against H1N1 will be done in stages and priority groups will be divided into three stages. Thus, those aged 60 or over will only receive the dose of the flu in the second stage, together with the teachers, between 11 May and 8 June.
In the first phase, which takes place between April 12 and May 10, children from six months to under six years of age, pregnant women, puerperal women, indigenous peoples and health workers will be vaccinated. In the last stage, which runs from June 9 to July 9, the rest of the population included in the priority group will be immunized. Thus, the Ministry of Health intends to distribute the doses of at least 90% of the target public of vaccination against influenza, estimated at 79.7 million Brazilians, until July 9.
“It would be very complicated, at this moment, to take the elderly, who are being vaccinated against covid, and put them in the campaign against influenza. Especially because you need to have an interval of at least 14 days between doses of flu and covid-19 immunizers ”, emphasizes Chebabo.
The ministry does not recommend the application of both drugs simultaneously, as there are no studies on the coadministration of immunizers.
The orientation of the folder is to prioritize immunization against covid-19, if the person is included in the two priority groups and can receive both doses. A note from the Ministry emphasizes that whoever is part of the priority group for vaccination against influenza, and who has not yet been vaccinated against the new coronavirus, “the dose against covid-19 must be prioritized and the dose against Influenza should be scheduled, respecting a minimum interval 14 days between them ”.
According to the Minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga, 25.5 million immunizers against covid-19 will be available to the population this month. Yesterday, the Butantan Institute released another million doses of CoronaVac and, by the end of April, will deliver another 8.8 million doses to the National Immunization Program (PNI), totaling 46 million injections. The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) will also deliver 18.4 million doses of Covishield’s vaccine.
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