Brazil has a drop in the intention to vaccinate against Covid – 01/09/2023 – Equilíbrio e Saúde

Brazil went against the grain of the world trend and showed a drop in acceptance of vaccination against Covid in the last year.

Worldwide, the desire to get vaccinated against Covid rose by an average of 5.2%, from 75.2% in 2021 to 79.1% in 2022, according to a survey of 23 countries conducted by the Global Institute of Barcelona Health (ISGlobal).

In Brazil, respondents who said they agreed with vaccination dropped 3.3% compared to 2021, from 90.5%, in 2021, to 87.2%. Despite this, Brazil maintains a high vaccination coverage with two doses (almost 81% until the last day 6).

In addition to Brazil, the other countries that had a drop in acceptance of vaccination against Covid were the United Kingdom (-1%), China (-1%), Turkey (-2.7%), Kenya (-8.5%), Mexico (-9.4%), Ghana (-13.8%) and South Africa (-21.1%).

The research entitled “A survey of vaccine acceptance of Covid-19 in 23 countries in 2022” was published this Monday (9) in the specialized journal Nature Medicine. In addition to ISGlobal, it has the participation of scientists from the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, from the City University of NY (Cuny), in New York, and from the Institute of Metrics and Health Evaluation (IHME), from the University of Washington, among others.

Survey data were collected from 29 June to 10 July 2022 in 23 countries. One thousand participants were interviewed in each country aged 18 or over, totaling 23 thousand participants. Of the total, 50.3% were women and 45.6% reported having an average monthly income above the country’s per capita income.

Countries were selected according to the global burden of morbidity and mortality from Covid in the first year of the pandemic, and surveys were carried out to assess vaccine acceptance in 2020 and 2021.

The research also evaluated the acceptance of the vaccine among those who are parents of children and adolescents under 18 years old, including parents who received at least one dose.

Brazil had a high rate of parents who are afraid to vaccinate their children, with a 56.3% increase in hesitation from 2021 to 2022 (from 8.7% to 13.6%). When considering those who received at least one dose, however, this rate goes to 5.4%.

Regarding booster doses, the study found lower rates of hesitation in low- and middle-income countries compared to higher-income countries. In Brazil, only 3.6% of respondents said they hesitate to receive Covid boosters, thus occupying the third position among those who most believe in vaccine boosters. Russia (28.9%), France (26.1%), South Africa (18.9%) and Canada (17.6%) have the highest rates of hesitation.

Despite the contradiction, Brazil still has around one hundred million people who have not sought one or more Covid reinforcements, according to a note released by the Ministry of Health last week.

According to information from the National Health Data Network (RNDS) released by the folder, 69 million Brazilians are still with the third dose (or first booster) of the vaccine overdue, and another 30 million who could already receive the fourth dose. (or second reinforcer) did not.

According to the ISGlobal study, about one-eighth (12.1%) of participants who said they were vaccinated were hesitant about taking additional doses. This may reveal an initial positive intention regarding vaccination against Covid, especially in 2020 and 2021, but a drop in global confidence in immunizers with the need for new boosters and the emergence of new variants. The findings corroborate other researches that pointed to a lower level of schooling and income as factors linked to vaccine hesitancy.

Another worrying data from the survey is that, despite being contraindicated by the WHO (World Health Organization) and other health entities for the treatment of Covid, 27% of the participants who said they had been infected in the last year reported having started treatment with ivermectin at the first sign of symptoms. In Brazil, the data is even more alarming: 79.5% of respondents who said they had taken medication to treat Covid used ivermectin.

With the increase in cases in recent weeks in countries such as China, the United States and Europe, researchers warn of a reduction in the search for reliable Covid information in the last year. According to the survey, nearly two-thirds (38.6%) of respondents said they pay less attention to coronavirus-related news now than they did in the previous year.

The survey researchers published, in November last year, a letter listing the main medical consensus for Covid and how they can help in decision-making.

According to Jeffrey Lazarus, coordinator of the ISGlobal survey, it is necessary to understand the effects locally to combat vaccine hesitancy in each country. “There is a perception that the pandemic is over because Covid is not as deadly as it once was, in part because people are vaccinated. This is a huge mistake as it ignores the post-Covid reality that affects millions around the world,” stated.

Still according to the researcher, there is an association between the speeches of authorities and the population’s willingness to get vaccinated. “This happened in part of the population, with the contrary speeches of former president Donald Trump, in the USA, and Bolsonaro, in Brazil. With the return of Lula [à presidência]I hope that acceptance of vaccination will increase and that it will also become more accessible, reaching out to marginalized populations that were not sought after by the previous administration”, he adds.