Observa Infância: vaccination coverage of children against Covid-19 remains low - Fiotec

(Image: Victor Vercant/Secretaria Municipal de Saúde de Maceió)

Four years after the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, officially decreed on March 11, 2020, and just over three years after the start of vaccination in Brazil, vaccination coverage in children and adolescents remains low, shows a study carried out by the Observatory of Childhood Health (Observa Infância), of Fiocruz and Unifase. The bulletin also points to a significant decrease in the number of deaths in this age group after the start of vaccination, indicating the effectiveness of the immunizer. However, the low demand for the vaccine is still a concern, as it is associated with continued mortality from the disease, the document warns. 

Observa Infância analyzed February 2024 data from the Ministry of Health (MS) on Covid-19 vaccination. They show that vaccination coverage in children aged 3 to 4 years is at 23% for two doses and only 7% for the complete vaccination schedule with three doses. In the 5 to 11 age group, coverage rises to 55.9% with two doses and 12.8% with all three doses (full vaccination). 

Considering the deaths from Covid-19, Observa Infância analyzed data from the Influenza Epidemiological Surveillance System (Sivep-Gripe/Fiocruz) for the first eight epidemiological weeks of each year, between 2021 and 2024. In the period in question, in 2021 (which corresponds approximately to the end of February), 118 deaths from the disease were recorded among children and adolescents up to 14 years old. The same period in 2022 recorded a total of 326 deaths by Covid-19 in this age group, which accounted for almost half (47.1%) of deaths due to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). 

In 2023, with the Covid-19 vaccine available for children six months and up in Brazil, there was an important decrease in numbers: 50 deaths from the disease were recorded in the first eight weeks of the year among children and adolescents up to 14 years old. According to the bulletin, the proportion of these deaths in relation to the total number of deaths due to SARS in that year and period was 24.5%.

In the same period of 2024, 48 deaths from Covid-19 were observed among children and adolescents under 14 years of age, representing 32.4% of SARS deaths.

According to the bulletin, vaccination coverage for this age group is at 11.4%, similar to the percentage of 14.9% observed in the adult population (considering the complete schedule with four doses of the vaccine), which shows a low vaccination coverage against Covid-19 in all age groups.

"The analysis shows that we have a safe, efficient and available vaccine in all municipalities. We need to use the resources we have to ensure children's health, especially in an unfavorable scenario with the circulation of other dangerous diseases, such as dengue," warns the researcher from the Institute for Scientific and Technological Communication and Information in Health (Icict/Fiocruz) and coordinator of Observa Childhood, Cristiano Boccolini.

Observa Infância
The Observatory of Childhood Health (Observa Infância) is a scientific dissemination initiative to bring to the attention of society data and information regarding the health of children up to 5 years old. The objective is to expand access to qualified information and facilitate the understanding of data obtained from national information systems.

The scientific evidence is the result of investigations developed by researchers Patricia and Cristiano Boccolini within the scope of the Institute of Scientific and Technological Communication and Information in Health (Icict/Fiocruz) and the Faculty of Medicine of Petrópolis of the Arthur de Sá Earp Neto University Center (FMP/Unifase), with resources from the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Source: Fiocruz News Agency (AFN)