Brazilian health authorities announced this week that starting in 2024 yearly vaccination against Covid-19 will be included in the country's Immunization Program (PNI) as per the World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendations, Agencia Brasil reported.
During the pandemic, a separate program was established to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine outside of our national program. This year, we are integrating this vaccine into the National Immunization Program, Secretary for Health and Environmental Surveillance Ethel Maciel explained.
The federal Health Ministry advises states and municipalities to prioritize specific groups, including children aged 6 months to under 5 years, individuals at a higher risk of severe disease, such as the elderly and immunocompromised people, pregnant and postpartum women, healthcare providers, people with comorbidities, indigenous communities, riverine and quilombola populations, long-term care residents and staff, individuals with permanent disabilities, incarcerated individuals, adolescents and young people serving socio-educational measures, staff in the detention system, and homeless individuals.
In Brazil, we have slightly expanded the group compared to WHO's recommendations, which are more limited. In the 2024 campaign, we will maintain the same groups as in 2023, Secretary Maciel clarified.
Vaccination strategy in 2024 will continue to prioritize these groups, and if there is a surplus of vaccines, they will be extended to other segments, as recommended by the Health Ministry. Our primary focus now, both globally and in Brazil, is to reduce the severity, hospitalization, and mortality related to the disease, Maciel added.
The Ministry of Health has also commissioned a national population-based study, involving around 33,000 participants, focusing on long Covid. We are concerned about the lack of international or national estimates for creating public policies. The study, coordinated by Pedro Hallal, a researcher at the Federal University of Pelotas, is visiting people's homes to collect information about how many times they have had Covid, whether they have had symptoms, and whether those symptoms persist. Fieldwork begins at the end of November, and we expect to have data by year-end to guide our approach to long-term Covid in 2024, Maciel also noted.
(Source: Agencia Brasil)