Brazil Starts Flu Vaccination of Its 16 Million Elderly

Under the banner "Live better – Get Vaccinated Against Flu," Brazil’s Ministry of Health hopes to draw 11 million citizens over the age of 60 to the nearly 74,000 vaccination sites scattered around the country.

The campaign begins on April 24 and runs through May 5. The vaccine is free.

The Brazilian Secretary of Health Surveillance in the ministry’s National Immunization Program, Jarbas Barbosa, said that this year’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of the country’s approximately 16 million senior citizens but that "the results of last year’s campaign were so significant that Brazil ended up having one of the widest coverages in the world."

According to Barbosa, 86% of Brazil’s senior citizens were vaccinated against flu in 2005, when the World Health Organization (WHO) was recommending that developed countries vaccinate at least 75% of their senior citizens.

He explained that the vaccine is always offered at the end of April and the beginning of May so that protection extends through the months of June, July, and August, when the flu virus is most active in Brazil.

Barbosa also pointed out that Brazil was the first Latin American country to include vaccination against rotavirus on the public vaccination calendar. The vaccine is available at health posts and should be given to infants in two doses, when they are two and four months old.

"We hope to eliminate around 850 deaths in infants under the age of 1 and up to 44,000 hospital stays," he said.

Agência Brasil

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