Immunization against Covid-19 in São Paulo has been as efficient as in rich countries with high vaccination coverage. Statewide, 87% of the adult population has been fully vaccinated by this Wednesday (27).
Among the 12-year-old population, which is currently the target audience of the campaign, that rate stands at 78.5%, according to data as of Oct. 26 — or about 4 in every 5 residents of the state.
In total, more than 38 million people aged 12 and over received at least one dose of vaccines, which is equivalent to 98.1% of the population in this age group. When considering the two doses of the vaccine or single dose, there are almost 31 million people who received the injections.
This places São Paulo on the same level as developed countries that have already come close to or surpassed the rate of 80% of the population over 12 years of age vaccinated.
The survey carried out by Folha analyzed the population aged 12 or over, the vaccination rate with at least one dose and that with two doses in the following countries: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Canada.
Compared to the countries above, São Paulo is fifth in the ranking of fully vaccinated, behind Spain, Canada, France and Italy. The vaccination coverage rates with two doses in these countries are, respectively: 88%, 84%, 79% and 79%. Below the state are Germany (75%), USA and UK (both 68%).
Despite having started the vaccination campaign about a month after the rest of the countries analyzed in the survey — Canada and the USA started immunization in the first half of December of last year; European countries, on December 27, 2020—, the state of São Paulo is today the leader in vaccination throughout Brazil, both in percentage of the vaccinated population and in people with at least one dose of immunizing agents.
In Brazil, vaccination against Covid began on January 17, at a symbolic event at the Hospital das Clínicas, in the city of São Paulo, precisely the place that today has the highest vaccination coverage rate – 92.2% of São Paulo citizens already received the complete scheme. This advance in vaccination caused the number of people hospitalized by Covid in the state to drop to 3,500, the lowest since April last year.
Despite this, there are still a number of people who have taken the first dose and have not returned for the second dose.
Carlos Magno Fortaleza, infectious disease and professor at the Faculty of Medicine at Unesp Botucatu, in the interior of the state, points out that the difference in Brazil as a whole between people with the first dose of the immunizing agent who are still waiting to receive the second is smaller than in the USA .
“In general, Americans who have not taken the vaccine are because they do not want to and will not take it, and we still have a surplus of people with the first dose waiting for the second because of the interval period”, he explains.
To try to mitigate this problem, the state government chose to reduce the interval for AstraZeneca’s vaccines, from 12 to eight weeks – as did the federal government in early October – and from eight weeks to three in the case of Pfizer.
The measure, in both cases, can help convince the contingent of absentees who could have already taken the second dose, but have not yet done so, to return to finally receive the immunizing agent, says infectologist at the Instituto de Infectologia Emilio Ribas, Rosana Ritchmann.
“It is appropriate to reduce the interval because we know that, with the delta variant, we need to have as many people as possible with two doses of the vaccine, from 80% to 85%,” he explains. Considering only the adult population, the state has already surpassed this range, with 87%, this Wednesday (27).
Despite this, he says, São Paulo sets an example with its high vaccination coverage. “We are seeing with this a significant decrease in hospitalization, hospitalization in Intensive Care Units [UTIs] and even in the rate of deaths due to vaccination”, he says.
For Brigina Kemp, Ph.D. in collective health, former coordinator of the health surveillance department in Campinas and member of the Covid-19 BR Observatory, the biggest challenge facing the state today is precisely to apply the second dose to these people.
“Considering the population over 40 years old, we already have more than 90% of the population fully vaccinated, but the numbers get worse under the age of 20. This could be because there is confusion with the intervals or even lack of a coordinated campaign to say that you only is completely immunized with the two doses of the vaccine”, she says, who is also technical advisor of Cosems (Council of Municipal Health Secretaries of the state of SP).
For her, the cities of the state made a great effort to achieve a successful vaccination campaign. “The municipalities made a lot of effort, the teams are very tired from working amid an adverse situation which is, on the one hand, the care of patients with Covid in primary care, emergency rooms and hospitals and, on the other hand, the fight against fake news and the attempt to carry out a vaccination campaign in this scenario”, he ponders.
The same work and commitment of health workers is recognized by the epidemiologist and head professor at the USP Faculty of Medicine, Paulo Lotufo. “We have a great tradition here and a commitment to vaccination. The organization in the municipalities [para a vacinação] it was commendable,” he says.
Lotufo reinforces, as well as Ritchmann, the importance now that the next stage will be the vaccination of children and adolescents. The FDA (the American agency that regulates medicines) should soon release the application of the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 5 to 11 years, and the expectation is that, as a result, this will also happen in Brazil.
“The ideal would be if we were able to advance in the vaccination of adults and adolescents by the end of the year and, in February, had children already vaccinated for the beginning of the 2022 school year. This will be a wonder to reduce the circulation of the virus “, says Lotufo.