Minas Gerais government expands target audience for meningitis vaccine in November

Minas Gerais will expand from November 3 the target audience for vaccination against meningitis C – a disease caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis and which can be fatal if not treated correctly. The Secretary of State for Health, the doctor Fábio Baccheretti, announced in a press conference this Wednesday, October 26, that people between the ages of 16 and 30, health workers, workers in technical education and higher and university students can be vaccinated against the disease.

“If we included vaccination 12 years ago. This group is the group that was not vaccinated. We will increase vaccination coverage by protecting the population from this bacterium, which runs a lower risk of transmission and death,” explains the secretary about the motivation of the group chosen to extend vaccination.

Also at a press conference, Baccheretti stressed that vaccination coverage against the disease is still below the objective. Minas has an increase in cases of the disease and low vaccination coverage. “The ideal is for 95% of the population to be vaccinated, but so far the target is 76%.

Baccheretti pointed out that fake news about vaccinations hinders coverage. He points out that before the vaccinations, many children were dying of diseases such as measles and poliomyelitis and that this situation has changed with the vaccination. “These are preventable diseases. Vaccination is the best way to prevent infectious diseases. We have a specific group that still denies this vaccine, but we realize that when we look at meningitis, we still manage to convince the majority that vaccination is the way to go. We still have to meet the 95% targets. The good information is that it helps us. Fake news is annoying, but I think we will still turn the tide, ”he underlines.

Understand what meningitis is, what it can cause and how to prevent it

Who can now vaccinate against meningitis?

In the public network, the vaccine can be taken from 6 weeks to 5 years. In children up to 6 months, 3 doses are necessary, with a booster after 12 months. This year, due to the increased risk of the disease, the Ministry of Health has expanded the vaccination of adolescents and young adults, the first responsible for maintaining the circulation of the disease. Starting this month, the ACWY meningococcal vaccine began to be offered temporarily to unvaccinated adolescents aged 11 to 14.

To whom will vaccination be extended?

For people aged 16 to 30, health workers, technical and higher education personnel and university students can be vaccinated against the disease.

Case of meningitis in Minas

From January to June this year, 465 cases were recorded in the state. In the whole of 2021, there were 459. In other words, the monthly average of 77.5 cases this year is almost double the 38 in 2021. Also according to the survey, until June this year, there there have been 71 deaths from the disease in Minas General. From January to December last year, there were 51 deaths.

Among the figures for 2022, what stands out are the 28 deaths caused by pneumococcal and meningococcal types of meningitis, which can be avoided simply by being vaccinated with the vaccine available free of charge in health posts. The two completely preventable types of the disease account for about 21% of meningitis cases in the state – 1 in 5 cases.

with Pedro Nascimento

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