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Ministry of Health reinforces the importance of vaccination against meningitis — CMIO(Brazil)

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The National Vaccination Calendar covers all stages of life. In the last month, there was confirmation of an outbreak in the state of São Paulo, with five cases of meningococcal disease (DM) of serogroup C, the most frequent in Brazil among bacterial meningitis. In this context, the Ministry of Health reinforces the importance of vaccinating children and adolescents against meningitis. Protection of the target audience prevents illness and disease outbreaks.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord, and can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Viral and bacterial meningitis are the most important for public health, considering the magnitude of their occurrence and the potential to produce outbreaks.

In Brazil, meningitis is considered an endemic disease. Cases are expected throughout the year, with occasional outbreaks and epidemics. Bacterial meningitis is more common in autumn and winter and viral meningitis is more common in spring and summer.

Being a serious and contagious disease, meningitis is capable of causing sequelae and even death. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent infection. Seven vaccines are recommended and are available through the Unified Health System (SUS) in more than 49,000 vaccination rooms throughout the country.

  • BCG: protects against severe forms of tuberculosis, including tuberculous meningitis. Vaccination schedule: single dose (at birth);
  • Penta: protects against invasive diseases caused by Haemophilus influenzae serotype B, such as meningitis and also against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and hepatitis B. Vaccination schedule: 1st dose at 2 months of age; 2nd dose at 4 months of age and 3rd dose at 6 months of age;
  • 10-Valent Pneumococcal (Conjugated): protects against invasive diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, including meningitis. Vaccination schedule: 1st dose at 2 months of age; 2nd dose at 4 months of age and booster at 12 months of age;
  • 23-Valent Pneumococcal (Polysaccharide): protects against invasive diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, including meningitis. One dose is sufficient to provide protection against the pneumococcal serotypes contained in the vaccine. It is available to the entire indigenous population over 5 years of age, without proof of the 10-valent pneumococcal vaccine (Conjugate). For the population over 60 years of age (institutionalized), revaccination is indicated only once, and should be performed 5 years after the initial dose;
  • 13-Valent Pneumococcal (Conjugated): protects against invasive diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, including meningitis. This vaccine is available at the Reference Centers for Special Immunobiologicals (CRIEs) for the following special groups: individuals ≥ 5 years of age, including adults with HIV/AIDS conditions, cancer patients, solid organ transplants and hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients. (bone marrow);
  • Meningococcal C (Conjugate): protects against meningococcal disease caused by serogroup C. Vaccination schedule: 1st dose at 3 months of age; 2nd dose at 5 months of age and booster at 12 months of age;
  • Meningococcal ACWY (Conjugate): protects against meningococcal disease caused by serogroups A, C, W and Y. Vaccination schedule: one dose in adolescents aged 11 and 12, depending on vaccination status.

prevention measures

Because it is a disease that can be caused by different infectious agents, for some of these there are primary prevention measures, such as vaccines and chemoprophylaxis (use of antibiotics). Vaccination is still considered the most effective form of prevention.

In the face of an outbreak of meningococcal disease, block vaccination is indicated based on a joint decision of the three spheres of management. The vaccination strategy is defined considering the epidemiological analysis, the characteristics of the population and the geographic area of ​​occurrence of the cases.

Temporary expansion of vaccines

The National Immunization Program (PNI) is also making the meningococcal C vaccine available to unvaccinated children up to 10 years of age and to health workers. Likewise, the meningococcal ACWY vaccine is being offered temporarily to unvaccinated adolescents 11 to 14 years of age.

The meningococcal ACWY (Conjugated) vaccine is available on the National Vaccination Calendar for 11- and 12-year-olds, but by June 2023 13- and 14-year-olds will also be able to get vaccinated. The expansion aims to reduce the number of carriers of the bacteria in the nasopharynx.

The age group with the highest risk of illness are children under one year of age, however, adolescents and young adults are primarily responsible for maintaining the circulation of the disease.

Giurla Martins
Ministry of Health



Official content – Fact Check – Verified

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