The national vaccination calendar offers, until July, the vaccine against meningococcal C (conjugate) to children under ten years, 11 months and 29 days who have no dose of the vaccine listed on the card.
The vaccine is already available in health centers across the country for children under five, being regularly given in a two-dose schedule, at three and five months, and a booster dose, preferably at 12 month. age. Normally, for children who, for whatever reason, have missed the opportunity to receive the vaccine at the ages indicated, it is recommended that a dose be given up to the age of four years, 11 months and 29 days.
The temporary extension of the administration of meningococcal C (Conjugate) to children aged ten years who have not yet been vaccinated aims to increase protection against the disease, one of the most aggressive types of meningitis which can rapidly lead to death or leave serious sequelae. .
Vaccination is the main form of prevention. In 2020, vaccination coverage in Minas Gerais for meningococcal C (conjugate) was 86.43% in children under one year old and 85.67% in children one year or older. In 2021, the recorded coverage was 73.7% for children under one year old and 72.26% for those over one year old. The target recommended by the Ministry of Health is 95% vaccination coverage among the population indicated to receive the vaccine.
Meningitis is an infection that affects the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Although all types of meningitis require strict monitoring of the clinical picture, meningococcal type meningitis is more severe.
“They all leave sequelae and lead to death, but meningococcal disease evolves towards death within 24 hours, in addition to sequelae ranging from deafness to amputation of a limb”, reinforces Fernanda Barbosa, technical referent of the Coordination diseases and communicable diseases of the Minas Gerais State Department of Health (SES-MG).
Fernanda explains that meningococcal disease is an infection caused by a bacterium (meningococcus), which can have several serogroups, A, B, C, W, X and Y being the most important. “The throat of the human being is the natural reservoir of this micro-organism, therefore, its transmission is done by particles eliminated during breathing, speaking, coughing, sneezing, kissing, or even by direct contact with secretions from respiratory symptoms of patients or asymptomatic carriers,” he says.
State coordinator of the vaccination program, Josianne Dias Gusmão explains that, although the age group most at risk of disease is children under the age of one, adolescents and young adults are mainly responsible for maintaining the circulation of the disease in the community. “Therefore, the only way to control meningococcal disease is to maintain high vaccination coverage in children and adolescents,” he reinforces.
The coordinator also stresses the importance of the vaccine to prevent the occurrence of epidemics of the disease, as well as hospitalizations for serogroup C, sequelae, rehabilitation treatments and deaths.
The vaccine was introduced in the Minas Gerais state vaccination campaign in 2009. A year later, the Brazilian government included it in the National Immunization Program (PNI). Since then the Ezequiel Dias Foundation (Funed)through a strategic alliance with GSK for the transfer of technology in the production process, has been the exclusive supplier of the immunizing agent in the country’s public network.
For the industrial director of Funed, Bruno Pereira, the quantity of doses sent to the Ministry of Health in recent months is sufficient to respond to all the groups covered by the vaccine, even with the widening of the age range, as planned by the Ministry of Health. “Even in the face of the covid-19 pandemic and all the challenges it presents, including transportation, we have guaranteed the vaccine supply for the whole country. In 2021, around nine million doses were sent to the Ministry of Health. , reinforced the director. This year, to date, nearly two million doses have been sent.