The current Covid-19 outbreak in Ceará increases doctors’ concern about vaccine hesitancy in the country. Coverage with the bivalent dose in Ceará is 18.79%, mostly concentrated in the elderly; in Brazil, the rate is 17.26%, and states like Mato Grosso and Tocantins do not reach 10%, according to the Ministry of Health.
For Alexandre Naime Barbosa, vice-president of SBI (Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases), the population has lost awareness of the risk that Covid-19 still represents and the outbreak observed in Ceará could occur in other parts of the country if there is no increase in coverage. vaccination.
“The end of the public health emergency does not mean the end of the pandemic”, he recalled. “SARS-CoV-2 will continue to circulate for years and years and years, therefore, it is necessary to continue with prevention measures, especially vaccination.”
The topic was addressed this Thursday (7), at an event promoted by Pfizer in São Paulo to publicize possible reasons why the population does not complete the vaccination schedule against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Check here how to check if the card is complete.
Barbosa highlighted that Covid-19 is the fifth deadliest pandemic in the history of humanity — behind smallpox, the Black Death, Spanish flu and HIV — and continues, now at another level, to cause hospitalizations and deaths. Between November 26th and December 2nd, there were 232 deaths related to the disease in the country. In total, 708,021 lives were lost in Brazil, more than 14 thousand of them in 2023.
“When we had a very high death rate, the population’s individual risk perception, that is, the fear of contracting Covid-19, progressing to hospitalization, to death, was very high and people got vaccinated. After the vaccines were successful in reducing hospitalization and death rates, the population ended up losing this perception of risk”, commented the infectious disease specialist.
In the survey carried out by Ipec at the request of Pfizer, 1,840 adults aged 18 to 59 with an incomplete vaccination schedule were interviewed and 45% of them said they were aware that they were not fully protected.
Furthermore, 13% said that, “since the pandemic is over, they stopped worrying about it”, said the medical director of Pfizer Brazil, Adriana Ribeiro.
Another aspect that continues to keep people away from immunization is the spread of false information. “Two out of every three people interviewed believe in at least one of the most common fake news stories on the topic,” said Ribeiro.
The first in the ranking of misinformation is the belief that vaccines against coronavirus have not gone through all phases of testing, ignoring the history of research that culminated in the vaccines. Then comes that “vaccines against Covid-19 cause serious cases of myocarditis, thrombosis, fibromyalgia and Alzheimer’s”, contradicting the real pharmacovigilance data.
One in four interviewees (25%) also stated that “a possible return of the pandemic or increase in cases” would be the main stimulus to complete the card — and then the problem grows, since the hesitation itself favors new waves of the disease.
“Those people who have not been completely vaccinated, that is, they have not received a booster with the bivalent vaccine, have five times more risk of being hospitalized or dying than a person with full vaccination status, especially if they are in the risk groups “, said Barbosa.
Furthermore, vaccination reduces the risks of post-Covid conditions (long Covid), the subject of a technical note that should be released in the coming days by the ministry.