By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Ministry of Health announced yesterday (May 29th) the extension of the National Vaccination Campaign against Influenza until June 15th. The decision was attributed to the effects of the truck driver strike on the health care sector.
Initially, the end of the campaign was scheduled for Friday, June 1st. According to the latest ministry data, the campaign immunized 35.6 million people so far, equivalent to 66 percent of the target audience.
The campaign is focused on the elderly from the age of sixty, children six months to five years old, health workers, teachers of public and private networks, indigenous peoples, pregnant women, women within 45 days of birth, those incarcerated and prison staff.
Last month, faced with a slow start to the program, the Health Ministry announced a D-Day campaign on May 13th, to encourage people to get their shots. Also included for the first time this year in the high-risk group are teachers from the private and public school systems.
“The measure reinforces the importance of the education professional in the immunization strategy, since teachers have daily contact with dozens of people and take a leading role in protecting their own health, serving as an example for their students and the school community,” stated the Ministry in a press release at the time.
To reach the goal of immunizing 54.4 million people this year, the government hopes that with the extension of the campaign they will vaccinate the additional 18.8 million Brazilians.
The government reports that in terms of states, those closest to the target of immunization were Goiás (99.8 percent), followed by Amapá (91 percent), Ceará (84 percent), Federal District (78.5 percent) and Espírito Santo (four percent).
On the other hand, the states with the lowest vaccine coverage are Roraima (32.5 percent), Rio de Janeiro (47.6 percent), Rondônia (51.3 percent), Amazonas (51.9 percent) and Acre (52 percent).
According to the latest survey by the Ministry of Health, there were 2,088 cases of influenza in the country and 335 people died as a result of the disease last year. The most serious type of influenza was H1N1, with 218 deaths and 1,262 cases.