Flu vaccination campaign will take place alongside that of Covid-19; see what changes in 2021
The vaccination campaign against influenza influenza, scheduled for this year to begin on April 12th, will have an extra element: the immunization process against Covid-19 that is underway across the country.
With two important vaccines to be applied in a synchronous period, health managers will have to organize a specific scheme to meet the high demand.
The vice president of the Council of Municipal Health Secretaries of Ceará (Cosems-CE), Rilson Andrade, is “concerned” about the possibility – since the date has not yet been ratified by the Ministry of Health – of this simultaneous campaign. “There will be a very large volume of vaccinees. I am very concerned about this possibility. If confirmed [a data de início] it will be a great challenge to be overcome, he evaluated ”.
For him, the best alternative would be to postpone the start of immunization against Influenza. “In the coming weeks, we should start vaccinating 60-year-olds [contra a Covid], this group will soon be overcome. So, if the campaign [contra a gripe] were postponed, we would have this certain relief of being one less group to have to receive both vaccines in the same period ”, analyzes Rislon, remembering that it is necessary to take two doses in the case of Covid.
This possibility of changing the date, for him, is palpable and there are indications that it may happen. “The Ministry has not yet sent the doses to the State, in my opinion, it may be indicative”, he assumes.
The Secretariat of Health (Sesa) confirmed that the vaccines have not yet arrived and added that it waits for the amount to then estimate the number of people who will be immunized against influenza Influenza in Ceará. Last year, more than 2.3 million people from Ceará were vaccinated.
Diário do Nordeste tried to contact the Ministry of Health to find out how many doses would be destined for Ceará, but there was no return. However, according to a report released by the Ministry itself, the goal, across the country, is to vaccinate at least 90% of the target audience, which totals almost 80 million Brazilians.
If the schedule is maintained, the vice president emphasizes that a broad mobilization will be necessary. According to him, it will not be a simple task to put this puzzle together. “Logistics is very, very difficult. There is the transport of doses, vaccination sites, professionals, in short, unifying the two campaigns into one will be complicated ”, adds Andrade.
The epidemiologist and professor at the Federal University of Ceará (UFC), Caroline Gurgel, shares the same thought. She agrees that “the biggest difficulty is going to be in logistics” and suggests that the vaccination sites be different.
“The ideal is a health post, for example, to vaccinate against Covid, and another for immunization against Influenza. This will avoid errors when applying ”.
The misconceptions to which it refers refer to the duplication of the vaccine against the new coronavirus in an elderly person who has already taken both doses. “We who work with research know that the error will always exist. So the goal is to reduce, minimize these errors. And one solution is to separate this audience ”, he adds.
For this to happen, recognizes the specialist, it will be necessary to increase the number of professionals as well as vaccination points, which is a challenge given the current moment in which there is already ample demand in force, due to the immunization against the new coronavirus.
In parallel to the possibility of the beginning being postponed, Cosems and the State Department of Health are articulating to make the application of the two vaccines feasible. Sesa said that an operational plan is being defined and that it should be ready next week.
If the date is kept, Sesa will meet with the municipalities to pass some directions. Although each city has the autonomy to define its own strategies, the more cohesive the actions are, the more successful we will be, as has been happening with the vaccine against Covid-19.
Despite expressing concern and acknowledging the difficulties, the vice president assesses, however, that the public health system “will be able to give a positive answer”. “SUS professionals show, every day, an extreme overcoming power. Although it is not ideal, I believe that, if necessary, we will be able to immunize everyone ”, he concludes.
In addition to the logistical challenges, experts point out that there are specific recommendations for this year’s campaign against Influenza. One of them, for example, is to prioritize the vaccine against Covid-19 if the vaccination date coincides.
If this occurs, or if the patient has already received the first dose, the guideline is to reschedule the immunization against Influenza for at least two weeks after the day the patient received the immunization against the new coronavirus.
This recommendation, as Caroline Gurgel explains, is a security measure. “We do not know the interaction between covid and the other vaccines. Therefore, it is recommended to wait between two weeks to 21 days. It is always important to emphasize that the knowledge that we have in other vaccines, does not exist in the scope of the vaccine against Covid, therefore, we have to have some safety measures ”, he details.
The Ministry of Health points out, however, that “it is unlikely that the vaccination of infected individuals (in the incubation period) or asymptomatic individuals will have a harmful effect on the disease”. However, due to the absence of corroborative studies, the MS also recommended that vaccination against Influenza be postponed in people with symptoms suggestive of Covid-19 infection.
The recommendation aims to “avoid confusion with other differential diagnoses”. As the clinical worsening can occur up to two weeks after infection, adds the Ministry of Health, the ideal “is that the vaccination should be postponed until full clinical recovery and at least four weeks after the onset of symptoms or four weeks from the first positive PCR sample in asymptomatic people ”.
The epidemiologist highlights the importance of the flu campaign by exposing that Influenza is as potentially deadly as Covid-19 in the elderly. “It has the same pattern of mortality. What has been controlled is the vaccine. That is why it is essential to maintain this immunization ”, he illustrates.
Another point highlighted by Caroline Gurgel is the risk of overlapping pandemics. Without the continuity of application of the vaccines that already exist, explains the specialist, diseases that are already under control have room to return.
“Dealing with the Covid pandemic is already being very challenging. Now imagine if we were facing other diseases in great volume, it would be chaos. That is why I always reinforce the importance of all campaigns ”.
The Ministry of Health released a report specifying the priority group, recommendations on vaccination, care to be adopted, among other issues. In this year’s campaign, 79,744,470 million people should be vaccinated against Influenza. A major change in this year’s campaign is the exclusion of adults aged 55 to 59 from priority groups. In 2020 they were part of it.
Check out who is part of the target audience:
- Children from 6 months to under 6 years of age (5 years, 11 months and 29 days);
- Pregnant and puerperal women;
- Indian people;
- Health workers;
- Elderly people aged 60 or over;
- People with chronic non-communicable diseases;
- People with permanent disabilities;
- Security, rescue and prison staff
- Truck drivers and public transport workers;
- Adolescents and young people from 12 to 21 years of age under socio-educational measures and a population deprived of their liberty.
As has been happening in the immunization process against Covid-19, the Influenza flu campaign will target the target audience in a staggered way. The division will be made in three stages, as instructed by the Ministry of Health, but that municipalities and states have autonomy for changes.
From April 12: children, pregnant women, puerperal women, indigenous peoples and health workers. Immunization begins on May 11 in the elderly aged 60 and over and teachers, and from June 9 in the rest of the group. The campaign is scheduled to end on July 9.
The MS report also points out that, if possible, a scheduling system should be made available to avoid crowding people in the waiting queue. The Ministry of Health reinforced, finally, that there is no evidence, so far, “of any safety concern in vaccination of individuals with a previous history of infection or with antibody detectable by SARS-CoV-2”.
- Children under 6 months of age;
- People with a history of anaphylactic shock after previous doses.
All other people are able to take the immunizer against Influenza. For those who are outside the target audience, the immunizer can be purchased from the private network.
Source: Diário do Nordeste
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