RIO DE JANEIRO – Fear of a rapid spread of yellow fever in Rio de Janeiro had hundreds of people waiting in long lines at public vaccination posts, two days after the confirmation of the first death from the virus in this Brazilian state.
Dozens of people jammed the doors to the city’s healthcare posts even before they opened this Friday.
People rushed to get in line two days after the municipal Health Secretariat confirmed the first two cases of the disease in the third most populated state in Brazil, including one patient who died last Saturday, and several days after the Health Ministry announced it was sending Rio a million doses of a vaccine capable of immunization against virus.
Besides the two cases now confirmed, regional authorities are investigating another 36 possible cases in Rio de Janeiro, principally in the municipality of Casemiro de Abreu, in the northwestern part of the state and where the first death was recorded.
The soaring demand for the vaccine forced the municipal Health Secretariat to announce that its 34 vaccination posts would open an hour earlier than originally planned this Friday, in order to distribute numbered entry tickets to all those interested, while organizing the lines of people waiting to be immunized.
The outbreak of yellow fever in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s biggest tourist attraction, sounded the alarm and forced regional authorities to bring forward to this week the beginning of a vaccination campaign that had originally been scheduled for the end of the month.
The outbreak in Rio de Janeiro was confirmed after the illness had spread rapidly through the neighboring states of Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo and Espirito Santo.
According to the Health Ministry’s latest bulletin, 137 deaths and 424 confirmed cases have been registered in Brazil over the past few months in 80 municipalities.
The states most affected are Minas Gerais with 325 confirmed cases, or 75 percent of the total, followed by Espiritu Santo with 93 cases and Sao Paulo with four, all within the southeastern region of the country.