The historic challenge of vaccination in Brazil

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Daniela Lorenset, 27 years old and Mr. Jhonatan Guilherme Fernandes, 21 years old, two 3rd-year Medical Student from the Ingá University Center, Maringá – PR, Brazil. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

2020 was an extremely challenging year for humanity. In addition to needing to reinvent ourselves with the new routine, studies were also started to develop the vaccine. However, despite the development of the vaccine presents a great challenge, the population’s ignorance and disbelief regarding the method used to develop the vaccine represent an obstacle to solving the problem.

Brazil went through several epidemics, mainly during the 20th century, such as smallpox, yellow fever and bubonic fever. The sanitary doctor Oswaldo Cruz was appointed, in 1903, as Director – General of Public Health and was tasked with fighting the three main epidemics. The sanitarian found in vaccination the solution to fight the diseases that plagued Rio de Janeiro. However, despite the great contamination, the population was resistant to adhere to the procedure.

The resistance shown by the population at the time was driven by fear, uncertainty and misunderstanding about the procedure. Unlike the time, the 2020 pandemic, as well as all research and development processes for the vaccine, were followed by the population, the procedures were explained and the doubts were resolved. However, the population shows great resistance driven by information from news that distort reality and hinder the development of prophylaxis.

Despite all the adversities, Brazil started vaccination for COVID 19 on January 17, 2021 on an emergency basis. Public agencies have developed a vaccination structure in order to initially support those most exposed and at greatest risk of contracting the disease. In this way, vaccination started by health agents, the elderly and people with institutionalized special needs, riverside residents and indigenous people living in demarcated lands. It is estimated that the first phase of vaccination will reach 14.8 million people. In the second phase, 22.2 million people between 60 and 74 years of age will be vaccinated. The third phase aims to vaccinate 12.6 million people who have morbidities, such as diabetes, hypertension, COPD, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, severe obesity and transplant or cancer patients. After these three stages, the government aims to vaccinate the rest of the population in the period of 12 months.

Researches for the development of the vaccine show great scientific and technological advances, favoring the development in a faster and more reliable way. However, disinformation and disbelief regarding the vaccine’s effectiveness represent a great challenge and a barrier in the vaccination process. The quarantine was accompanied by a lot of insecurity and fear. These emotions associated with distorted information hinder the progressiveness of the process and adherence to vaccination. In addition, the production of doses and equipment needed for vaccination, such as syringes and needles, are incompatible with population demand, requiring greater investment to keep up with demand.


Ministério da Saúde. Controle de Endemias. Ministério da Saúde, Secretaria Executiva. Brasília:Ministério da Saúde. 2001.

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Benchimol, J.L. Dos micróbios aos mosquitos. Febre amarela e a revolução pasteuriana no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro:Fiocruz/UFRJ. 1999.

Benchimol, J.L (coord.). Febre amarela: a doença e a vacina, uma história inacabada. Rio de Janeiro:Editora Fiocruz. 2001.

Ferreira, L.O. “Os periódicos médicos e a invenção de uma agenda sanitária para o Brasil” (1827-43). História, Ciências, Saúde (Manguinhos); 6:331-51. 1999.

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About the author

Daniela Lorenset, 27, is a 3rd-year Medical Student from the Ingá University Center, Maringá – PR, Brazil. Jhonatan Guilherme Fernandes, 21, is a 3rd-year Medical Student from the Ingá University Center, Maringá – PR, Brazil and Local Officer on Medical Education Director (LOME-D) in the local committee Uningá of IFMSA Brazil. These students are academics from Ingá University Center (Uningá) and articulated themselves with the objective of reporting a current problem that has occurred in their country and in the world.

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