Brazil’s Health Ministry has launched the second stage of Movimento Vacina Brasil nas Fronteiras, an initiative to step up vaccination efforts across 16 municipalities by November 30.
The goal is to expand the vaccination coverage, especially against measles and yellow fever. The plan has Mercosur countries (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay) and associated nations (Bolivia and Colombia) engaged.
To meet its objective, the ministry sent to border states 11.3 thousand doses of the yellow fever vaccine and 11.2 thousand doses of the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella). The towns covered also have stocks of doses remaining from the first phase, carried out in September.
The campaign follows the vaccination calendar in each country. In Uruguay, for instance, vaccination against yellow fever will not be administered, as it is not part of the country’s routine. In Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, in turn, children younger than ten years old are the priority. In Brazil, the yellow fever vaccine may be given to people nine months to 59 years old, and its measles counterpart from six months to 49 years old.
The initiative comes following a request by the Brazilian government to bring frontier immunization to the agenda put together by the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Mercosur and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).
Measles and yellow fever
In Brazil, the outbreak of measles is still active in 19 states. From August 4 to October 26, 5,660 cases of the disease and 14 deaths were reported. More than 90 percent of the cases are concentrated in 176 municipalities in São Paulo state, chiefly in the metropolitan region. The only way to sever the chain of transmission and prevent measles is vaccination, health agents say.
The behavior of yellow fever in Brazil varies from season to season. The period with transmission at its highest is December through May. In the last three years, transmission was on the rise. Late in 2016 to June 2017 a large-scale outbreak assailed states in the Southeast more severely, with 779 cases of the illness and 262 deaths notified.