Location of health facilities drastially affects the immunization of children

Children in Tanzania living 5 km or greater distance from the nearest healthcare facility were less likely to be immunized than children living less than 5 km from facilities. Compared to children living close a health facility, children far from a health facility had almost three times the risk of missing out on BCG, 84% higher risk of missing the third dose of DTP, and 48% higher risk of missing the first dose of measles-containing vaccine. Of children who did receive BCG, those living more than 5 km from facilities were 26% more likely to received BCG vaccine late than children close to the facility.

Poverty negatively affects the timing of vaccines given to children

In Tanzania, poverty was found to have a negative effect on receiving vaccines on time (at the recommended age). Children in the wealthiest quintile experienced 19% fewer delays for BCG vaccination, 23% fewer delays for the third dose of DTP vaccination, and 31% fewer delays for the first dose of measles-containing vaccine compared to children of the poorest quintile.

Multiple-strategy community interventions can reduce socioeconomic and gender-based inequalities in maternal and child health

A multiple-strategy community intervention program of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in India, designed to reduce maternal and child health (MCH) inequalities was implemented between 2005 and 2012. The gender gap in immunization coverage swung from significantly favoring boys before the intervention to a slight advantage for girls by the end of the intervention. Specifically the coverage differentials changed as follows: for full immunization (5.7% to -0.6%), for BCG immunization (1.9 to -0.9 points), for oral polio vaccine (4% to 0%), and for measles vaccine (4.2% to 0.1%).

Medical costs for treating diarrheal disease can drive households below the poverty line

A study modeling the relationship between disease and poverty in Ethiopia found that among the top 20 causes of death in Ethiopia, diarrhea and lower respiratory infections (LRIs) are the top two drivers of medical impoverishment. It is estimated that in 2013, out-of-pocket direct medical costs for diarrheal disease drove an estimated 164,000 households below the poverty line (representing 47% of all the diarrhea cases), and LRIs led to an estimated 59,000 cases of poverty (17% of LRI cases). Of the top 10 health-associated drivers of poverty, four are at least partially vaccine-preventable (1. Diarrhea, 2. LRI, 4. TB. 10. Pertussis).

Childhood vaccination provides an opportunity to deliver additional interventions

A recent review looks at evidence linking vaccinations in early infancy to childhood development services. BCG and DPT have the highest coverage of any vaccines worldwide and are typically administered within 6 weeks of birth. This timing offers the opportunity to deliver a range of early childhood development interventions such as newborn hearing screening, sickle cell screening, treatment and surveillance, maternal education around key newborn care issues such as jaundice, and tracking early signs of poor growth and nutrition.

A women’s empowerment program was associated with higher rates of immunization among children

An impact evaluation for a women’s empowerment program in India found that the children of mothers who participated the empowerment program were significantly more likely to be vaccinated against DTP, measles, and tuberculosis than children of mothers not involved in the program. This study also found that the women’s empowerment program had positive spillover effects: In villages where the program occurred, children of mothers not in the program (non-participants) were 9 to 32% more likely to be immunized against measles than in villages where the program did not occur (controls). Overall, measles vaccine coverage was nearly 25% higher in the program villages compared to the control villages.