After two years of following strict quarantine, wearing masks, avoiding contact with other people and maintaining a certain social distance, cases of tonsillitis, pharyngitis and other types of sore throats have dropped dramatically. However, with the number of new infections and deaths due to Covid-19 declining, due to mass vaccination, there was some relaxation in people – especially at family gatherings – and the famous sore throat returned, causing their number to rise. Cases of influenza and colds.
In Rio de Janeiro, the situation is more serious. According to the Vuecruz bulletin, which was conducted between November 28 and December 4, there were more cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SRAG) from influenza than from coronavirus. The capital city is witnessing an influenza epidemic of at least 23,000 cases of influenza.
According to the Municipal Health Department of Rio de Janeiro, the number of patients seen in the municipal network is four times greater than usual. The city dropped out of the vaccine last week, forcing it to suspend flu vaccination.
Flu outbreaks and epidemics usually occur between April and May and June and July, in early fall and winter, because in this cold season, people tend to crowd together to get warm and often indoors – which facilitates transmission of the virus.
The scenario occurring in Rio de Janeiro in early summer can be explained by several reasons: The first, already mentioned above, is that after greater control by Covid-19, there has been a relaxation in adherence to basic preventive measures – such as the use of masks and social distancing. People began meeting, hugging, and kissing, among other actions that could facilitate infection.
The second is that it was brought from the Northern Hemisphere – where it is winter – because the strain found in Rio de Janeiro is the same as that found in the United States and Europe. The third, and most likely, is the low coverage of influenza vaccination – in Rio, as of November, less than 60% of the target audience (mainly the elderly, children and pregnant women) were vaccinated against influenza – less than 90%, a proportion considered ideal by the Ministry of Health.
The scenario is repeated all over Brazil. The 2021 flu campaign was far from achieving its goals. About 78% of the target audience had been vaccinated by September, according to the Ministry of Health.
The study published by Fucruz warns that the virus can easily spread to other Brazilian states – mainly in the southeastern region (SP, MG, ES), adjacent to Rio. For example, countries such as Parana and Pernambuco have already begun to take measures in order to prevent influenza epidemic.
The state of Pernambuco accelerated vaccination and claimed to have vaccinated 100% of pregnant and postpartum women, but only 68% of the elderly and 84% of children. Parana vaccinated only 67.4% of the priority group against influenza. Espiritu Santo 78.4%. According to the Information System of the National Immunization Program (SIPNI), only Amapá managed to exceed the target set by the Ministry of Health and vaccinate 93% of the target audience. One reason for this low commitment this year is that it was not possible to take the two vaccines (influenza and SARS-CoV-2) together, having to wait 14 days.
Since influenza and the Covid-19 virus have the same symptoms – fever, headache and sore throat – it is necessary to follow the same precautions: continue to use masks, avoid crowds, and keep your distance from the vaccine. If the interval between one dose of Covid-19 is longer than 14 days, it is important to get a flu shot.
Scientists say that there is a large group of people who are at risk of the most dangerous form of infection, as their bodies do not have enough antibodies to fight this disease that has not spread practically in 2020.
Although it is less aggressive than Covid-19, it is also linked to hospitalizations and deaths. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 650,000 people die every year on the planet due to respiratory complications associated with the influenza virus.
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