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Covid-19: Fiocruz takes part in vaccinations at indigenous lands in Amazon


José Gadelha (Fiocruz Rondônia)


On the side of Maici river (Aldeia Dudu), an indigenous woman called Potai Pirahã received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Aftere 28 days, she should get the second dose. Potai Pirahã is part of a group of 713 indigenous people that will be vaccinated in the municipality of Humaitá (in the South of Amazonas). The vaccination in indigenous lands of the area started on January 26th, along with lectures to raise awareness about the importance of the Covid-19 vaccination and quick tests provided by Fiocruz Rondônia. A total of 600 tests were done by the campaign on January 26 and 27.

Besides Fiocruz Rondônia, the House of Indigenous Health (Casai/Humaitá), the Municipal Secretariat of Health (Humaitá), the Districtal Council of Indigenous Health (Condisi/Porto Velho), the Special Indigenous Sanitary (Dsei/Humaitá), the National Indian Foundation (Funai) and the Organization of Indigenous People of Alto Madeira (Opiam) also participated in the campaign.

According to Marisa Ferreira, the head of Casai Humaitá, the Amazonas government distributed 1,426 doses of the CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine, which is produced by the Butantan Institute in a partnership with the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac. The goal is to vaccinate 100% of the indigenous population in the municipality, including the two doses recommended by the Ministry of Health and the age range recommended, which means that indigenous people older than 18 years should be vaccinated.

Currently, Casai Humaitá is in charge of assisting the nine indigenous ethnicities spread across 16 villages along the Trans-Amazonian Highway. One of the main difficulties encountered by the health teams is accessing some villages. In a lot fo cases, the distance can compromise the assistance in emergency situations.

According to Casai’s data, since the pandemic started, 192 Covid-19 infection cases and one death were confirmed among indigenous people on the Humaitá Center. Aurélio Tenharim, technical advisor of Dsei Porto Velho and Districtal Council of Indigenous Health, highlighted the importance of this campaign to fight against the coronavirus in indigenous lands, “we believe that Fiocruz Rondônia being present in the villages bringing information and lectures to raise awareness about the importance of the vaccination makes us feel safer about the vaccine, and this is crucial to us in a moment like this”, he stated.

“In Brazil, indigenous people historically live in vunerable conditions, which was aggravated by the pandemic. Although the start of the vaccination is a historical moment, a lot of our villages already have a reduced population, like the Juma and the Pirahã people, which makes us worried and afraid”, Antônio Enésio Tenharim, coordinator of the Organization of Indigenous People of Alto Madeira (Opiam), reported during the vaccination opening celebration. According to him, the campaign in defence of the indigenous health in the Amazon Rainforest brings a little bit of hope. Ivanildo Tenharim was the first indigenous person to take the Covid-19 vaccine in the municipality.

The researcher in Public Health of Fiocruz Rondônia, Deusilene Vieira, emphasized the advancements in science in face of the coronavirus, highlighting the importance of social mobilization and the community engagement as allies in the fight against the disease, “we’re starting 2021 with the chance of reversing this pandemic situation”, she emphasized.

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