After Easter Traffic Jams Brazilians Get in Line for Flu Vaccine

Vaccination campaign in Brazil In Brazil, for most people, Easter is Holy Week, meaning at least a four-day holiday (Thursday to Sunday), with almost everything closed on Good Friday, although most businesses open Easter Sunday.

And for many, Easter Sunday is time to drive back home and get ready to go back to work Monday. That was not so easy.

Rio and most of southern Brazil had a rainy weekend, all weekend. The weather bureau described it as simply “unfavorable.” Civil Defense authorities put the city of Rio de Janeiro on alert Sunday afternoon as a cold front moved in bringing heavy rainfall and the danger of flooding and landslides.

The main highways into and out of Rio were described as slow Sunday afternoon and evening. The Via Dutra, connecting the city to São Paulo, was being repaired between kilometers 175 and 188, which slowed the heavy traffic down even more.

As for the Rio-Niterói bridge, connecting the city to popular areas in the mountains or to beaches, traffic was very intense, with some 80,000 cars crossing the bridge on Easter Sunday.

At the end of Sunday afternoon, traffic was backed up between 15 to 30 kilometers on many highways while Rio airports were operating normally.

Flu Vaccine

The day after Easter Brazil begins its annual flu vaccine campaign with the goal of vaccinating almost 24 million people. This year, besides seniors and members of indigenous communities, a special effort will be made to vaccinate children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years, women who are pregnant and healthcare providers.

The vaccine offers protection from three viruses that circulate in the Southern Hemisphere, including swine flu (also known as the H1N1 influenza).

Young children will get their vaccine in two doses; half a dose two times, with the first a month before the second. People who are allergic to eggs should not get the vaccine.

The vaccine reduces the incidence of flu in adults over 60 by around 45%.

The Ministry of Health is distributing 30 million doses of the vaccine, a little less than half of them to the Southeast region (the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo).

Although the vaccine is available beginning this Monday, Saturday, April 30, is National Vaccine Day and there will be 65,000 vaccination posts open all day. The vaccination campaign ends on May 13.

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