Investing in maternal health improves immunization rates and overall health of mothers and children

Use of recommended maternal health care services — defined as at least 4 antenatal care visits, having a skilled attendant at birth, and delivery in a health facility — was a predictor of timely vaccination of mothers’ infants in a study conducted in Ghana. Compared to children whose mothers received one or two of these services, infants born to mothers who received all three interventions were roughly 30% more likely to be fully vaccinated by 12-23 months of age, while children whose mothers received none of these services were only about half as likely to be fully vaccinated. Investing in maternal health, which creates familiarity with the health system and increases mothers’ knowledge about disease prevention, can improve the health of both the mother and her children beyond infancy.

Refugee children in Kenya have significantly lower immunization rates

Somali refugee children in Kenya were nearly 60 times more likely than children of the main ethnic group in the study (Kikuyu) to not have received any childhood immunization and more than twice as likely to have not completed their vaccinations. Although Somali children made up less than 8% of the sample, they accounted for nearly half of all non-vaccinated children.

This study used data from Kenya’s Demographic and Health Survey data.

Children from the poorest households in Nigeria are less likely to be immunized than those from wealthier households

In a Southwest state of Nigeria, children in the poorest category (quintile) of households were 14 times more likely to be partially immunized or not immunized, and those in the next poorest category were eight times more likely to be partially immunized or not immunized than children in the wealthiest group, after adjusting for factors such as education, religion, and ethnicity.

North Korean refugee children in China have low vaccination rates due to lack of legal status

Children born to North Korean refugee women in China have much lower vaccination rates than local Chinese or migrant children — with full immunization rates of 14% compared to 93% for local ethnic Chinese children and 55% for migrant children. While all ethnic Chinese children are registered and provided with free vaccinations and there are specific programs targeting migrant children, children born to Korean refugees have no legal status and are thus excluded from the public health care system.