Infectologist warns of the risks of low immunization against measles and other viral diseases

Posted on 13/04/2022 19:35.

For the first time, the Ministry of Health promoted the Influenza and Measles campaign together.

Photo: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

Laiane Cruz

After 21 years without measles records, Feira de Santana recorded a case of the disease in 2019, the same year in which the country lost its international certificate of elimination of the virus, with 20,901 cases. It seems little, however, it is more evidence of the return of viral outbreaks that were completely eradicated in the country since 2016.

With the population’s low adherence to the vaccines already established in the National Immunization Plan, health professionals and public authorities are increasingly concerned that viruses such as measles, rubella and polio will become central actors in new epidemics. That is why, earlier this month, the National Vaccination Campaign against measles and also against the Influenza virus (flu) was launched.

“Measles is a highly contagious acute viral disease, so it can be transmitted in a greater way than Covid-19 from one person to another, through respiratory secretions. The main symptoms of measles are high fever, runny nose, conjunctivitis (eye inflammation) and red spots on the body,” Melissa Falcão, an infectious disease specialist from Feira de Santana, who has served on the Committee to Combat Covid-19, told Acorda Cidade. in the municipality and is an authority on the subject.

Photo: Ney Silva/Acorda Cidade

She draws attention to the fact that all people who are not vaccinated or who have not previously had measles can contract the disease, regardless of age. The risk is increased for children under 1 year of age.

“Measles can affect any age group, but it is less frequent in adults and the elderly because it was a very common disease in Brazil and many older people already contracted it in childhood. Transmission occurs from one infected person to another through respiratory secretions, such as nasal secretions and saliva, and the most effective way is through vaccination, which has been getting worse over the years. The population’s adherence to all vaccines has been falling in our country”, he lamented.

According to the infectologist, children from 1 year of age should start their calendar with the MMR, which protects not only against measles, but also against mumps and rubella.

“This campaign is not just to end this cycle of measles in the country, as we had the measles eradication certificate since 2016, and the recurrence of cases from 2018 onwards made Brazil lose the certificate in 2019. it was a very common disease in our country, but given the effectiveness of the vaccine and campaigns carried out to eradicate it, this was possible, and this lack of vaccination is causing extinct diseases to return. Measles is a concern, and there is fear of a return of rubella and polio. This is very serious. These are diseases with a very large impact on the lives of those affected. We saw a return due to the lack of responsibility of people to vaccinate their children and to vaccinate themselves too”, he reinforced.

Contraindications

Despite the importance of measles vaccination, some groups are exceptions to this immunization.

According to Melissa Falcão, the restriction for vaccination against measles is for people with immunodeficiency, as it is a live attenuated virus vaccine. So patients who use corticosteroids for a long time, who are undergoing chemotherapy and using immunobiologicals should wait a while before being vaccinated.

“And also those people who have an allergy to the formula component and pregnant women. Women who can take the vaccine must wait a period of up to 4 weeks to be able to get pregnant. But if someone happens to get pregnant before that period or take the vaccine without knowing they were pregnant, just follow up, as most women do not report any problems.”

Simultaneous campaign against measles and influenza

Melissa Falcão pointed out that the Ministry of Health campaign this year, for the first time, promoted the Influenza campaign, along with the measles vaccine, showing the importance that these vaccines have for the protection of the population.

“At that moment, children from six months to five years of age and health professionals, who are more exposed, will be covered. So all people who have not had the two doses of measles vaccine or who have not had the disease previously, and all children aged 6 months to 5 years, even if they have been vaccinated previously, should be vaccinated. Regarding the covid-19 vaccine, children under 12 need a two-week break to take the other vaccines. Above that age, the flu and covid vaccines or the measles vaccine with the covid can be applied simultaneously. Any vaccine has side effects, usually mild, such as pain in the arm, in the body, and some people after a week may have a redness in the body, but they are limited and disappear spontaneously, without major problems”, he reassured.

With information from reporter Ney Silva from Acorda Cidade.

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