The Pharmaceutical Industry Research Association – Interfarma, Favelas Center Union – Cufa Brazil and the Brazilian Society of Pharmaceutical Medicine – SBMF launched in March, 2021 a Movement called Esquadrão da Vacina (the Vaccine Squad). It is a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of nationwide vaccination, beyond COVID19, considering the decreasing level of immunization coverage. The objective is to increase the vaccination coverage of immunizers that are available by the National Immunization Program (PNI), of the Brazilian public health system. On the website of the Movement, there are information about available vaccines and diseases, campaign materials and documentation needed to get vaccinated.
Through PNI- National Immuniztaion Program, Brazilians have about 19 vaccines available for different diseases, such as measles, hepatitis B, HPV, yellow fever, among others. Although they are offered at no cost to the population, data from Ministry of Health* show that the vaccine coverage rate has been decreasing every year. Between 2015 and 2020, the drop in polio vaccine coverage was 22.9% and BCG coverage was 30.4%. Between 2019 and 2020, the variation was -9.9% and -15.4% for poliomyelitis and BCG, respectively.
Vaccine coverages available for adults and pregnant women also present decreases. According to data from PNI Information System* (accessed on 20.07.2021), in 2020, the coverage of the pregnant dTpa vaccine was 45.44%, 28.2% lower than the year 2019 (63.23%).
“The decrease in the vaccination rate should be a concern of all, since there is a possibility of diseases, which until then were eradicated or controlled, reappear. Vaccination is crucial for a healthier country, free from outbreaks and epidemics. This is the main factor that made us carry out the Vaccine Squad campaign”, explains Elizabeth de Carvalhaes, president of Interfarma. “Measles, for example, had been declared eliminated from the country and the Americas by PAHO and WHO (Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization) in 2016, but in 2018 Brazil again recorded outbreaks of the disease,” she continues.
Actress and singer Roberta Rodrigues was chosen as the ambassador of the campaign. Born and raised in the community of Morro do Vidigal, in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro, Roberta carries out the Social Work “Vidiga na Social”, which seeks to bring and provide access to education, culture, leisure and work for the neediest families. In addition, the actress is committed to the defense of SUS.
Lasting four months, the campaign carried out actions in 12 communities in the country, with outdoor advertising and leafleting, spots on community radios, sound cars and displays in 120 commercial points of the communities. During this period the association provided a service of clarification of doubts via WhatsApp.
COVID-19 Vaccine Safety
In addition to the Vaccine Squad, Interfarma is producing content about the safety of vaccines, according to the campaign launched by IFPMA. The purpose is to inform society about the process of obtaining vaccines against Covid-19 and combat fake news related to it to increase the adherence of the population to vaccination against the disease.