The polio victim, at risk of returning, says 'Gotenha's costume was missing to me'

The polio victim, at risk of returning, says ‘Gotenha’s costume was missing to me’

Beth Sirkino, 60, psychoanalyst and wheelchair user. She was a victim of polio, a disease for which there was already a vaccine, and she lost the movement of her legs before she even learned to walk.

Beth underwent 32 surgeries, spent part of her childhood and teenage years in hospitals and still suffers the consequences of polio. In 1962, she was unable to get vaccinated in the area where she lived, in the interior of São Paulo. Today, the disease, which was eradicated 30 years ago, is in danger of returning due to non-adherence to immunization.

“At 11 months old, due to lack of a vaccine, I had polio and I had polio. I had started taking my first steps and had already contracted the virus. I lost movement in my legs and today I am in a wheelchair Zé Gotinha was missing for me.

Today I am 60 years old and since then I have had 32 corrective surgeries. I spent most of my childhood and adolescence in hospitals, always doing surgeries, always doing physical therapy, and going to and from the hospital. If you don’t pay attention, it bends one thing, bends another and results in surgery.

In 1962, there was a vaccine only in the major capitals. The Minister of Health at the time did not believe that a mass vaccination was necessary. They campaigned only after a terrifying outbreak of the disease in the interior of São Paulo. I used to live in Pori (SP).

Lots of people died. And those who survived were, like me, scarred. There are people who are completely paralyzed, in arms and legs, only one arm, and only one leg. The virus made the party. There were two trainees at the Hospital das Clínicas who live to this day in the steel lung [tipo de ventilador que permite a uma pessoa respirar em caso de paralisia dos músculos da respiração].

I didn’t need all of that, but I did need care. I got married, had a daughter, and I’m being cared for to this day. It’s a sequel that takes you to the end of your life. I’m still in pain today, I’ve been doing physical therapy my whole life.

When the vaccination campaign began, shortly after my outbreak, poor people living in rural areas would walk miles to vaccinate their children. Today there are ignorant who they are anti-vaccine.

When I saw people rejecting the Covid vaccine, I was so disappointed, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I’ve only seen it in an American movie. I never imagined seeing Brazilians refuse a vaccine, especially my generation, who went through all this.

I saw that you had a recent case of polio in the United States. It is a leap that the disease returns with everything. Today, all it takes is a flight for the virus to spread.

I always say that everyone in my family has a moral obligation to vaccinate their children. Whoever has accompanied my suffering, this physical imperfection, always looking for a cure, an improvement, has an obligation to vaccinate his children. [Não vacinar] It’s too much hypocrisy, don’t put yourself in my shoes.

If you do not take your child for a vaccination, then you are, yes, responsible for what will happen to him. I wanted that responsibility to be criminal.

I always have up-to-date vaccinations: influenza, influenza, adult diphtheria (diphtheria and tetanus), and have taken all my coronavirus boosters. When my daughter was born, I filled her entire booklet. There was a campaign, I took it.

I am engaged in campaigns against polio, I give my picture, I participate in events, I am always in this fight. I don’t think anyone deserves to go through what I’ve been through.

I hope that scientists will not give up working for us. It’s amazing the lack of respect for the science we’re seeing now.”

The threat is tangible

Polio was eradicated three decades ago, and doctors are alarmed by low vaccination coverage, which has fallen since 2017.

In 2021, only 67% of the target audience received a polio vaccination – far from the ideal, which is 95%, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

On July 21 this year, in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed the case of the disease in Rockland boycottin New York State, which has not happened since 1992.

According to Evaldo Stanislao, an infectious disease specialist at Hospital das Clinicas, the “threat is tangible: If we have one confirmed case of polio in Brazil, we will have a major public health problem,” he warns.

This is because, in addition to being highly transmissible, poliovirus is easy to spread in places with poor sanitation, as it is transmitted through the fecal-oral route. Brazil, which had a perfect vaccine before the World Health Organization, is now on the list of countries at risk of contracting polio.

Covid was a turning point

Stanislaw attributes the decline in vaccination coverage to a combination of factors. “The vaccination campaigns of recent years have been quite timid. Besides, the current generation has not grown up seeing polio, talking about polio, and if we don’t have a campaign and we don’t talk about the disease, you don’t have to” you don’t remember it and don’t pay attention to it. The importance of vaccination,” he says.

Another factor pointed out by the specialist is the low demand for health services during the Covid pandemic. “And fourth, and I want to believe that this is a small problem in Brazil, there is an anti-vaccination movement,” he says. “A lot of the obscurantism in the vaccine discussion may have extended to the polio vaccine as well.”

According to Karla Kobayashi, an infectious disease specialist at Sirio Hospital Lebanon (SP), the Covid pandemic has been a “turning point” in the vaccine issue.

“Everyone became a vaccine specialist, and started discussing the vaccine and the brand. This could be helpful, because the more information, the better for the population. But what we saw was an unfavorable scenario, with a lot of fake news, and misinformation, which led to further drives the demand for other vaccines, including those that have been included in the Brazilian vaccine calendar since the 1970s,” he regrets.

The disease has no cure and can kill

Poliovirus infection initially has nonspecific symptoms such as fever and sore throat. The danger begins when the virus reaches the central nervous system, leaving neurological sequelae.

Depending on the affected nerve and the level of involvement, a person may experience loss of motor function, limb atrophy, and respiratory muscle damage – potentially fatal.

Stanislaw reminds us that there is no cure. “It is a highly contagious disease and once someone is infected, we provide supportive care, but the chance of polio or death is high.”

The campaign will run until September

The national campaign focused on polio prevention started on August 8 and will run until September 9. a target group They are more than 14 million children under the age of five. The injectable vaccine is given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age, and the booster vaccine is given in drops to children 1 to 4 years old who have already had the first three doses by injection.

Stanislaus Appeals to parents and guardians of children: Qhuh that they Do not miss the opportunity to vaccinate your children because the threat is real. We urgently need to bring the levels of vaccine protection back to above 90% we had in the past.”

In addition to polio, Kobayashi warns of the importance of two other immunization agents: MMR, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, and the meningitis vaccine. “It’s a perfect time for parents to take advantage of the trip to the mail to update their children’s immunization record, and to complete all of their overdue vaccinations,” he says.

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