Massive drop in vaccination leaves three in ten Brazilian children at risk

Vaccination station in Tamarana, Paraná. Photo: Isaac Fontana/Shutterstock
Vaccination station in Tamarana, Paraná. Photo: Isaac Fontana/Shutterstock

Aside from coronavirus jabs, Brazil’s vaccination coverage drastically dropped during the pandemic. Three out of ten Brazilian children have not received the vaccines necessary to protect them from potentially fatal diseases, warned Unicef on Wednesday. The organization used data from Brazil’s national immunization program until April 5.

According to Unicef, vaccination coverage against measles, mumps, and rubella dropped from 93.1 to 71.49 percent between 2019 and 2021. During the same period, there was also a drop of almost 20 percentage points in the number of children who received the polio vaccine – from 84.2 to 67.7 percent.

“In early childhood, children receive immunization against at least 17 diseases. Declining vaccination rates put millions of children and adolescents at risk of dangerous, preventable diseases,” said Stephanie Amaral, UNICEF Health Officer in Brazil.

But while the pandemic certainly compromised the immunization of children, vaccination rates were already lowering in the years leading up to the pandemic. According to experts, the success of previous vaccination campaigns led many families to lower their guards in relation to diseases such as measles.