VoICE : Search Immunization Evidence

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The VoICE tool is a compendium of the many direct and downstream impacts of vaccine-preventable disease and immunization. The database contains summary explanations of the link between immunization and each impact, as well as sources of evidence for each link. You can browse the VoICE tool by topic, or use the filters to find results based on topic, disease or vaccine, location and published year.

86 Key Ideas, 78 Sources
Key Idea

During the conflict in Yemen, efforts spearheaded by WHO, with coordination among partners and effective use of resources, especially GAVI, resulted in continued high pentavalent vaccine coverage decreasing only 3% from 2010 to 2015. Yemen also remained polio-free through 2015 and smoothly introduced two new vaccines (MR and IPV).

During the humanitarian crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic, the constant support from WHO, UNICEF, and local NGOs resulted in immunizations against VPDs reaching over 90% of children.

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Key Idea

In 41 Gavi-eligible countries, it is estimated that without any rotavirus vaccine (RVV) coverage, an estimated 2.2 million Catastrophic Health Costs (CHC) cases and 600,000 Medical Impoverishment (MI) cases would occur due to rotavirus gastroenteritis. Unfortunately these figures would not significantly decrease under the current immunization forecasts because very few countries have introduced the RVV. However, with the introduction of RVV the number of CHC cases would drop to 1.3 million and MI cases to 400,000, representing a 40% reduction.

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Key Idea

In an analysis of statewide survey data collected in Bihar, India, researchers reported that female newborns had significantly lower odds of receiving care if ill compared to male newborns (80.6% vs. 89.1%) and lower odds of having a postnatal check up visit within a month of birth (5.4% vs. 7.3%). This gender inequity is more pronounced among families at lower wealth levels and those with higher numbers of siblings.

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A study that examined the gender gap in immunization coverage in a rural area of Bangladesh showed that poverty, low maternal education, and second or higher birth order had a stronger negative effect on the likelihood of full immunization coverage for girls compared to boys. In other words, girls from households in this area that were below the poverty line were 11% less likely to be fully immunized than boys from households below the poverty line. Girls were also 6% less likely than boys to be fully vaccinated if their mothers did not attend high school and 5% less likely than boys to be vaccinated if they were not the first born child in the family.

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Key Idea

In India, inequities in vaccination coverage exist between states, within states, and in urban vs. rural settings. Lower parental education resulted in lower coverage, girls had lower coverage than boys and infants born to families with a large number of children also had lower coverage than others. A direct relationship between household wealth and coverage was also found.

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Inequity in vaccination coverage in India was found between states, within states, and in urban vs. rural. Lower parental education resulted in lower coverage, girls had lower coverage than boys, and infants born to families with a large number of children also had lower coverage than others. A direct relationship between household wealth and coverage was also found.

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Key Idea

In a study of nearly 40,000 recipients of PCV7 and control subjects in northern California, there was a 5.4% reduction in the number of antibiotic prescriptions and a 12.6% reduction in the use of “second-line antibiotics” among children who received the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Between the time the first dose was administered and the age of 3.5 years, use of the vaccine prevented 35 antibiotic prescriptions per 100 fully vaccinated children.

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Key Idea

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).

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In a study modeling the economic impact of immunization in 41 low- and middle-income countries, the authors estimate that 24 million cases of medical impoverishment would be averted through the use of vaccines administered from 2016-2030. The largest proportion of poverty cases averted would occur in the poorest 40% of these populations, demonstrating that vaccination can provide financial risk protection to the most economically vulnerable.

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Key Idea

A study of 14 geographically diverse countries with a DPT vaccination rate below 70% evaluated missed vaccination opportunities. Researchers found that children – and their mothers – who were fully immunized were more likely to have received other health interventions. In Cote d’Ivoire, children of mothers who had four or more antenatal care (ANC) visits were 54% more likely to be fully immunized than children of mothers who had no ANC visits. Large differences in full immunization coverage were also found in children who received Vitamin A vs. children who didn’t (greatest difference of 41% was noted in the DRC) and in mothers who had access to a skilled birth attendance (36 % difference in Nigeria) and postnatal care (31% difference in Ethiopia), as compared to mothers without access to these services.

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Key Idea

Findings of a systematic review evaluating the relationship between pneumonia and malnourishment found that severely malnourished children in developing countries had 2.5 to 15 times the risk of death. For children with moderate malnutrition, the risk of death ranged from 1.2 to 36.

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A study of children under 5 years of age in Dhaka Bangladesh found that severely malnourished children were nearly 8 times more likely to suffer death from diarrhea than those who were not severely malnourished.

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Key Idea

A two-dose schedule of rotavirus vaccine was estimated to be cost-effective in Somalia, where more than 20 years of civil conflict have significantly damaged the health system and vaccine coverage is exceedingly low. Researchers estimate that in 2012, routine use of rotavirus vaccine, even at low coverage rates, would have averted nearly 25% of deaths due to rotavirus diarrhea in Somali children under one year of age.

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Children under 5 years of age bear the greatest burden of indirect conflict-associated mortality. (Indirect mortality is due to disruption of health services including immunization, food insecurity and high risk living conditions such as those found in refugee camps.) The leading causes of child death in these circumstances include respiratory infections, diarrhea, measles, malaria, and malnutrition.

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Key Idea

Across many South Asian and sub-Saharan African countries, children of mothers who received no formal education were nearly 3 times as likely to die before reaching age 5 as those born to mothers with some secondary education.

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Key Idea

An analysis of the impact of rotavirus vaccine in 25 Gavi countries found that the rates of vaccination in all countries were highest, and risk mortality lowest, in the top two wealth quintiles’ coverage. Countries differed in the relative inequities in these two underlying variables. Cost per DALYs averted is substantially greater in the higher quintiles. In all countries, the greatest potential vaccine benefit was in the poorest quintiles; however, reduced vaccination coverage lowered the projected vaccine benefit.

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A study looking at the impact of pneumococcal vaccine introduction and scaling up pneumonia treatment in Ethiopia found that 30-40% of all deaths averted by these interventions would be expected to occur in the poorest wealth quintile. The greatest resulting financial risk protection would also be concentrated among the bottom income quintile.

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A study of measles vaccine in Bangladesh found that children from the poorest quintile were more than twice as likely to die as those from the least quintile in the absence of measles vaccination. The difference in mortality between unvaccinated and vaccinated was statistically significant (p<0.10) and robust across alternative measures of socioeconomic status.

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Key Idea

In 41 Gavi-eligible countries it is estimated that, in the absence of measles vaccination, the occurrence of Medical Impoverishment (MI) or households falling below the poverty line due to medical expenditures to manage measles disease would be 5.3 million. With current coverage rates, 700 thousand households would suffer MI. If Gavi support afforded enhanced coverage, the estimate of households suffering MI would decrease to 500 thousand.

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Key Idea

It is estimated that under current vaccine coverage trends in 41 Gavi-eligible countries, enhanced Gavi funding would help to avoid out-of-pocket health expenditures in an amount that surpasses US$4.5 billion attributable to measles, US$168 million attributable to severe pneumococcal disease, and US$200 million attributable to severe rotavirus.

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Key Idea

In urban residents in the Democratic Republic of Congo, chronically malnourished children were less likely to have received two doses of measles-containing vaccine compared to healthy children (OR=0.4).

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Key Idea

Tens of millions of volunteers, social mobilizers, and health workers have participated in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The program contributes to efforts to deliver other health benefits, including health systems strengthening. Polio eradication legacy efforts include documenting and applying the lessons learned from polio eradication and transitioning the capacities, assets, and processes of polio to other key health priorities.

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Key Idea

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.

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Key Idea

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.

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Key Idea

An analysis of undernutrition and mortality in young children found that among the principal causes of death, 60.7% of deaths occurred as a result of diarrhea, 52.3% of deaths occurred as a result of pneumonia, 44.8% of deaths occurred as a result of measles, and 57.3% of deaths occurred as a result of malaria are attributable to undernutrition.

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Key Idea

In a modeled analysis of the economic impact of vaccine use in the world’s 72 poorest countries, for countries included in the analyses from the African region, scaling up coverage of the Rotavirus (RVV) vaccine to 90% was projected to result in more than US$900 million in treatment costs averted.

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Key Idea

The evidence on cholera disease dynamics suggests that significant herd protection can result from a relatively small number of immunizations, particularly in endemic areas where there is some natural immunity among the population.

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Key Idea

A multi-site study of cholera vaccination programs found that the vaccine was cost-effective in school- and community-based vaccination programs for children in India, Mozambique, and Indonesia.

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Assuming 90% coverage, a program in The Gambia using a 9-valent PCV (PCV9) would prevent approximately 630 hospitalizations, 40 deaths, and 1,000 DALYs over the first 5 years of life of a birth cohort. The estimated cost would be US$670 per DALY averted in The Gambia.

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Key Idea

A study looking at the impact of pneumococcal vaccine introduction and scaling up pneumonia treatment in Ethiopia found that 30-40% of all deaths averted by these interventions would be expected to occur in the poorest wealth quintile. The greatest resulting financial risk protection would also be concentrated among the bottom income quintile.

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In a financial risk model analysis of 41 Gavi-eligible countries, the burden of Catastrophic Health Costs (CHC) and Medical Impoverishment (MI) would be greatest in the lowest income populations. With expanded vaccine coverage, the share of prevented cases of measles, pneumococcal disease, and rotavirus, in relation to the total number of cases prevented, would be larger in the lowest income populations thereby providing a larger financial risk protection (FRP) to these populations.

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Key Idea

A study in Bangladesh found that families are heavily borrowing or losing assets to be able to bear the cost of pneumonia in their children <5 years of age.

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In a 2002 study from Cambodia, households with a dengue patient had to borrow money at high interest rates and lose productive assets (land) to repay debts linked to healthcare costs. Public healthcare cost significantly less than private healthcare but was either not present where people lived or did not have a good reputation.

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In 41 Gavi-eligible countries it is estimated that, in the absence of any measles vaccine use, approximately 18.9 million households would have Catastrophic Health Costs (CHC) attributable to measles. The number of CHC decreases to 3.4 million households in these countries if the current vaccine coverage forecasts is unchanged and decreases to 2.6 million cases if coverage was enhanced with Gavi support. Overall, optimizing vaccine coverage for measles can reduce by approximately 90% the incidence of CHC due to measles disease.

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Key Idea

In a study in The Gambia – a setting where healthcare is free of charge to patients – pneumococcal disease nonetheless placed a heavy financial burden on families seeking treatment before arrival at the hospital, with families paying for transportation costs, drugs, diagnostic tests and even burial in the case of death. 50-80% of the cost of treating an episode of pneumococcal disease was born by the health system, which still left families to cover a cost up to 10 times their average daily household budget. In addition the estimated treatment cost for inpatient pneumonia of US$109 is nearly 4 times the annual per capita expenditure for health in The Gambia.

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In Malawi, in 17% of cases where children were admitted to the hospital, and in 9% of cases where children were treated as outpatients for diarrhea, household costs associated with treating that episode, exceeded monthly income in a significant number of cases. The costs were significant enough to push families from each income level below the national poverty line for the month in which the illness occurred.

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Key Idea

Researchers estimate that vaccinating against 10 diseases in the world’s 94 poorest countries between 2011-2020 will avert US$586 billion in costs of illness (including treatment costs, transportation costs, lost caretaker wages and productivity losses due to death and disability). The 73 Gavi-supported countries account for US$544 billion of the treatment costs averted.

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Key Idea

In the mid-1980s, the Indian government examined the effect of their universal immunization program on child mortality and educational attainment. Results indicate that exposure to the program reduced infant mortality by 0.4 percentage points and under five child mortality by 0.5 percentage points. These effects on mortality account for approximately one-fifth of the decline in infant and under five child mortality rates between 1985-1990. The effects are more pronounced in rural areas, for poor people, and for members of historically disadvantaged groups.

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Key Idea

A study of the economic burden of cholera in Africa found that 110,837 cases of cholera reported in 2007 resulted in an economic loss of $43.3 million, $60 million and $72.7 million US dollars, assuming life expectancies of 40, 53 and 73 years respectively.

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Key Idea

In 1996, a follow-up study was conducted on a 1974 randomized trial of tetanus and cholera vaccine administered to mothers. At the time of follow up in 1996, there was a clear pattern of increased educational attainment among children whose mothers received tetanus vaccine during pregnancy. This pattern was significant for the group of children born to vaccinated mothers with very low levels of education.

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Key Idea

Models based on demographic data from Ghana suggest that immunization would eliminate the childhood mortality risk associated with living in poverty and greatly diminish the increased risk of mortality borne by children whose parents have low levels of education.

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Key Idea

It is estimated that in 41 Gavi-eligible countries, approximately 6.6 million households would suffer Catastrophic Health Costs (CHC) in the absence of pneumococcal vaccine coverage. Due to the current absence of a pneumococcal immunization plan in many of these countries, the number of CHC cases would only decrease slightly to 6.4 million with current immunization programs. If pneumococcal vaccine programs would be implemented or expanded with Gavi support, the number of households experiencing CHC would decrease to 4.6 million – a decrease of approximately 30%.
Similarly, the estimates of medical impoverishment without vaccine coverage in this model showed that pneumococcal disease would cause 800,000 households to fall under the poverty line.

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Vaccines that can protect against pneumonia – Hib and S. pneumoniae vaccines – can together prevent over 1.25 million cases of poverty over 15 years, found researchers modeling the economic impact of immunization in 41 low- and middle-income countries.

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Key Idea

A recent study estimated that, during the decade from 2011-2020, every US$1 invested in immunization programs in the world’s 73 poorest countries would yield a US$16 return on investment. Using an approach accounting for additional societal benefits of vaccination (the “full income approach”, which quantifies the value that people place on living longer and healthier lives), researchers estimated the return could be as high as US$44 per US$1 invested.

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Key Idea

In The Gambia, 58% of children who survived a bout of pneumococcal meningitis “had clinical sequelae; half of them had major disability preventing normal adaptation to social life” (mental retardation, hearing loss, motor abnormalities, seizures).

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In a systematic literature review of studies in Africa, it was found that one quarter of children who survived pneumococcal or Hib meningitis had neuropsychological deficits.

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Key Idea

This study follows up on a 1974 randomized trial of tetanus and cholera vaccine administered to mothers in Bangladesh. At the time of follow up in 1996, there was a clear pattern of increased educational attainment among children whose mothers received tetanus vaccine during pregnancy. This pattern was significant for the group of children born to vaccinated mothers with very low levels of education.

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Key Idea

In India, inequities in vaccination coverage exist between states, within states, and in urban vs. rural settings. Lower parental education resulted in lower coverage, girls had lower coverage than boys and infants born to families with a large number of children also had lower coverage than others. A direct relationship between household wealth and coverage was also found.

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A study conducted in Eastern Uganda found that Ugandan children whose mothers had some secondary schooling were 50% more likely to have received scheduled vaccinations by 6 months of age than children whose mothers had attended school only through primary level. This effect became more pronounced with delivery of the later doses of each vaccine (OPV2, 3 & DPT-HB-Hib 2,3).

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Key Idea

A study looking at WHO data from member states shows that globally, coverage of the third dose of DTP is 26% higher among children born to mothers with some secondary education compared to mothers with no education.

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Researchers looking at vaccination coverage in 45 low- and middle-income countries found that maternal education is a strong predictor of vaccine coverage. Children of the least educated mothers are 55% less likely to have received measles containting vaccine and three doses of DTP vaccine than children of the most educated mothers.

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A study that examined the gender gap in immunization coverage in a rural area of Bangladesh showed that poverty, low maternal education, and second or higher birth order had a stronger negative effect on the likelihood of full immunization coverage for girls compared to boys. In other words, girls from households in this area that were below the poverty line were 11% less likely to be fully immunized than boys from households below the poverty line. Girls were also 6% less likely than boys to be fully vaccinated if their mothers did not attend high school and 5% less likely than boys to be vaccinated if they were not the first born child in the family.

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Key Idea

A review of measles vaccination data found that female children experience substantially higher mortality risks from measles relative to male children and greater reductions in mortality with vaccination. In essence, vaccinating female children against measles provides them with the same survival chances as unvaccinated male children.

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Across multiple studies reviewed, the effect of measles vaccine appears to be more beneficial to girls than to boys.

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Key Idea

In Rwanda, HPV vaccine introduction through a new school-based delivery program provided the opportunity to offer additional health services to all school-children (girls and boys), including health promotion sessions, de-worming and opportunities for voluntary, free circumcision.

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Key Idea

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%).

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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.

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In a systematic review of qualitative research from low- and middle-income countries, women’s low social status was shown to be a barrier to their children accessing vaccinations. Specific barriers included access to education, income, resource allocation, and autonomous decision-making related to time. The authors suggest that expanding the responsibility for children’s health to both parents (mothers and fathers) may be one important element in removing persistent barriers to immunization often faced by mothers.

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A systematic review of studies from countries in Africa and Southeast Asia investigated the relationship between a woman’s “agency” (defined as the woman’s ability to state her goals and to act upon them with motivation and purpose) and childhood immunizations in lower-income settings. The review found a general pattern among studies in which higher agency among mothers was associated with higher odds of childhood immunizations. Empowering women in these settings shows promise as a means to improve child health.

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Key Idea

In India, inequities in vaccination coverage exist between states, within states, and in urban vs. rural settings. Lower parental education resulted in lower coverage, girls had lower coverage than boys and infants born to families with a large number of children also had lower coverage than others. A direct relationship between household wealth and coverage was also found.

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A study looking at DHS data from 67 countries found that, globally, girls and boys had the same likelihood of being vaccinated. In some countries where there is known gender inequity and son preference, girls were more likely to not be vaccinated.

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Inequity in vaccination coverage in India was found between states, within states, and in urban vs. rural. Lower parental education resulted in lower coverage, girls had lower coverage than boys, and infants born to families with a large number of children also had lower coverage than others. A direct relationship between household wealth and coverage was also found.

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Key Idea

In a study in The Gambia – a setting where healthcare is free of charge to patients – pneumococcal disease nonetheless placed a heavy financial burden on families seeking treatment before arrival at the hospital, with families paying for transportation costs, drugs, diagnostic tests and even burial in the case of death. 50-80% of the cost of treating an episode of pneumococcal disease was born by the health system, which still left families to cover a cost up to 10 times their average daily household budget. In addition the estimated treatment cost for inpatient pneumonia of US$109 is nearly 4 times the annual per capita expenditure for health in The Gambia.

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Key Idea

An ecological study designed to investigate the association between child mortality rates and gender inequality using the United Nations Development Programme’s Gender Inequality Index (GII), showed that low- and middle-income countries have significantly higher gender inequality and under-5 mortality rates than high-income countries. Greater gender inequality was significantly correlated with lower immunization coverage and higher neonatal, infant, and under-5 mortality.

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To better understand the drivers of vaccination coverage and equity, a 2017 study examined the country-level factors influencing vaccination coverage in 45 low- and lower-middle income Gavi-supported nations. Countries with the least gender equality – as measured by reproductive health, women-held parliamentary seats, educational attainment, and other factors – also had lower rates of vaccine coverage.

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Key Idea

In an analysis of immunization coverage in 45 low- and lower-middle income Gavi-eligible countries, researchers found that overall, maternal and paternal education were two of the most significant drivers of coverage inequities in these countries. Pooling the data from all countries, the authors found that “children of the most educated mothers are 1.45 times more likle to have received DTP3 than children of the least educated mothers.” The same held true for measles vaccines with a 1.45-fold likelihood of vaccination in children of the most educated mothers.

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Key Idea

Polio eradication investments in health infrastructure have been concentrated in some of the lowest performing health systems in the world, challenged internally by geography, poverty, armed conflict, etc. These assets can be leveraged to improve the health system and immunization overall nationally.

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Key Idea

Children in slum settings have higher burdens of vaccine-preventable disease (one study found children in slums in Manila, Philippines were 9 times more likely to have tuberculosis than other urban children) and lower rates of immunization (a study in Niger found 35% coverage in slums vs. 86% in non-slum urban areas).

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Key Idea

“HIV-infected individuals are living longer, and non-AIDS-defining conditions are affecting this population in increasing numbers. HPV infections are more prevalent and persistent in HIV-infected women and men. Earlier studies reported anal HPV prevalence rates of 76% in HIV-infected women and 46% in HIV-uninfected women and cervical prevalence rates of 48% to 73% compared to 28% in HIV-uninfected women.” In addition, the burden of HPV infections and HPV-associated diseases is higher in HIV-infected women compared with HIV-uninfected women.

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Key Idea

In the mid-1980s, the Indian government embarked on one of the largest childhood immunization programs-called Universal Immunization Program (UIP)-in order to reduce the high mortality and morbidity among children. Results indicate that exposure to the program reduced infant mortality by 0.4 percentage points and under five child mortality by 0.5 percentage points. These effects on mortality are sizable{they account for approximately one-fifth of the decline in infant and under five child mortality rates between 1985- 1990. The effects are more pronounced in rural areas, for poor people, and for members of historically disadvantaged groups. The 0.5 percentage point reduction each year over 5 years (from 15% under 5 mortality in 1985 to 12.3% in 1990), represents an 18% reduction overall in under 5 mortality.

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Models based on demographic data from Ghana suggest that immunization would eliminate the childhood mortality risk associated with living in poverty and greatly diminish the increased risk of mortality borne by children whose parents have low levels of education.

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Key Idea

A large randomized controlled trial of a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in South Africa found that use of the vaccine prevented 10 times as many cases of pneumococcal pneumonia in HIV positive children than in HIV negative children.

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Key Idea

Nearly a quarter of a million children are born with sickle cell disease in Africa each year. SCD was found to increase the risk of Hib infections by 13-fold and pneumococcal infections by 36 fold. This means that children with SCD stand to benefit enormously from PCV and Hib immunization.

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A study of children under 5 years of age in Dhaka Bangladesh found that severely malnourished children were nearly 8 times more likely to suffer death from diarrhea than those who were not severely malnourished.

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A study of Kenyan children under 5 years of age found that immunization with polio, BCG, DPT, and measles to be protective against stunting in young children (27% less likely to be stunted than unimmunized children under age 2 years). In addition, children with diarrhea and cough in the 2 weeks prior to the survey were 80-90% more likely to be underweight or to suffer from wasting.

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An analysis of undernutrition and mortality in young children found that among the principal causes of death, 60.7% of deaths occurred as a result of diarrhea, 52.3% of deaths occurred as a result of pneumonia, 44.8% of deaths occurred as a result of measles, and 57.3% of deaths occurred as a result of malaria are attributable to undernutrition.

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Key Idea

A study in the US found that the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease was 22 to 38 times higher in adults with cancer than in healthy adults.

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Key Idea

A study of the impact of measles vaccine in Bangladesh found that unvaccinated children in the poorest quintile were more than twice as likely to die as those from the least poor quintile. In addition, vaccination reduced socioeconomic status-related mortality differentials

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Key Idea

A study looking at the impact of pneumococcal vaccine introduction and scaling up pneumonia treatment in Ethiopia found that 30-40% of all deaths averted by these interventions would be expected to occur in the poorest wealth quintile. Scaling up PCV13 to levels achieved with DTP3 in Ethiopia would be expected to avert nearly 3000 child deaths and 60,000 episodes of pneumococcal pneumonia annually, not including any potential herd benefit. A publicly financed program to scale up pneumococcal vaccines would cost about US$40 per year of healthy life gained.

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A study of the impact of measles vaccine in Bangladesh found that unvaccinated children in the poorest quintile were more than twice as likely to die as those from the least poor quintile. In addition, vaccination reduced socioeconomic status-related mortality differentials

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Key Idea

A package of 5 vaccines was delivered, and it was found that children from poorer households benefited more in terms of health outcomes from immunization than did those from relatively wealthier households. Results suggest that most of the risk of dying before age five can be eliminated with full immunization in the severely health-deprived setting.

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Key Idea

Rates of vaccination in all studied countries were highest and risk mortality lowest in the top two wealth quintile’s coverage. Countries differed in the relative inequities in these two underlying variables. Cost per DALYs averted is substantially greater in the higher quintiles. In all countries, the greatest potential vaccine benefit was in the poorest quintiles; however, reduced vaccination coverage lowered the projected vaccine benefit.

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A study of measles vaccine in Bangladesh found that children from the poorest quintile were more than twice as likely to die than those from the least quintile in the absence of measles vaccination. The difference in mortality between unvaccinated and vaccinated was statistically significant (p<0.10) and robust across alternative measures of socioeconomic status.

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Key Idea

A group of experts evaluated a number of maternal, neonatal, and child health interventions for equity across wealth quintiles using data from 1990-2006. Immunization was found to have the narrowest differences in coverage of services between the poorest and wealthiest children. In other words, of the interventions evaluated, immunization was the most equitable across income groups.

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Key Idea

In India, inequities in vaccination coverage exist between states, within states, and in urban vs. rural settings. Lower parental education resulted in lower coverage, girls had lower coverage than boys and infants born to families with a large number of children also had lower coverage than others. A direct relationship between household wealth and coverage was also found.

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In a systematic review of qualitative research from low- and middle-income countries, women’s low social status was shown to be a barrier to their children accessing vaccinations. Specific barriers included access to education, income, resource allocation, and autonomous decision-making related to time. The authors suggest that expanding the responsibility for children’s health to both parents (mothers and fathers) may be one important element in removing persistent barriers to immunization often faced by mothers.

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Globally, coverage of the third dose of DTP is 15% higher among children in the highest compared to lowest wealth quintile. However, this masks differences of up to 64% in the most inequitable countries (Nigeria).

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Inequity in vaccination coverage in India was found between states, within states, and in urban vs. rural. Lower parental education resulted in lower coverage, girls had lower coverage than boys, and infants born to families with a large number of children also had lower coverage than others. A direct relationship between household wealth and coverage was also found.

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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.

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Key Idea

A group of experts evaluated a number of maternal, neonatal, and child health interventions for equity across wealth quintiles using data from 1990-2006. Immunization was found to have the narrowest differences in coverage of services between the poorest and wealthiest children (28% higher coverage in the highest wealth quintile compared to the lowest). By contrast, indicators of treatment coverage for children sick with diarrhea and pneumonia were nearly 60% higher in the highest wealth quintile compared to the poorest. This means that poor children are at a much greater disadvantage with respect to receiving treatment for pneumonia and diarrhea than they are for receiving vaccines to prevent these infections.

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A package of 5 vaccines was delivered, and it was found that children from poorer households benefited more in terms of health outcomes from immunization than did those from relatively wealthier households. Results suggest that most of the risk of dying before age five can be eliminated with full immunization in the severely health-deprived setting.

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Key Idea

A study modeling the economic impact of 10 childhood immunizations in 41 low- and middle-income countries found that the bulk of poverty averted through vaccination occurs in poor populations. For most of the vaccines in the study, at least 40% of the poverty averted would occur in the poorest wealth quintile. Particularly for pneumonia, more than half of the two million deaths averted by pneumococcal and Hib vaccines would occur in the poorest 40% of the population.

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Key Idea

In a study of nearly 40,000 recipients of PCV7 and control subjects in northern California, there was a 5.4% reduction in the number of antibiotic prescriptions and a 12.6% reduction in the use of “second-line antibiotics” among children who received the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Between the time the first dose was administered and the age of 3.5 years, use of the vaccine prevented 35 antibiotic prescriptions per 100 fully vaccinated children.

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Key Idea

A systematic review of studies from India found that prior to widespread use of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, antibiotic resistance in serious pneumoccocal infections among Indian children has been common. Penicillin resistance was found in 10% of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) cases, while trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole resistance was found in more than 80% of these cases.

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Key Idea

In a study modeling the cost-effectiveness of vaccination campaigns in Somalia – the country with the second largest number of refugees in 2012 – the use of Hib vaccine, PCV10, or both Hib and PCV10 were all found to be cost effective means to prevent excess morbidity and mortality from pneumonia in young Somali children. Such a vaccination campaign could conservatively reduce pneumonia cases and deaths by nearly 20%.

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Key Idea

The ongoing conflict in Syria has caused the breakdown of immunization services, leading to outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases in the region and the re-emergence of polio in Syria for the first time in 15 years. The potential for polio to re-emerge in neighboring areas with low coverage of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) threatens the success of global efforts to eradicate polio.

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Researchers investigating the causes of a measles outbreak in Burkina Faso that occurred despite a recent mass vaccination campaign found that migration to and from Cote d’Ivoire was a major risk factor for children. Unvaccinated children who developed measles were 8.5x more likely to have recently traveled to Cote d’Ivoire than unvaccinated children who had not traveled across the border. Children returning to Burkina Faso after a period of time in Cote d’Ivoire were less likely to have been vaccinated due to low routine coverage of measles vaccines in Cote d’Ivoire. Conversely, unvaccinated children from Burkina Faso who traveled to Cote d’Ivoire and returned were more likely to be exposed to measles and thus had a higher rate of disease than children who never visited Cote d’Ivoire.

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Large measles outbreaks occurred in Lebanon and Jordan, following an influx of Syrian refuges migrating to escape conflict. In Lebanon, the measles incidence increased 200-fold in one year following high migration. There were 2.1 measles cases per million population in Lebanon in 2012; this increased to 411 cases per million in 2013.

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Key Idea

Vaccines against yellow fever and cholera continue to be critical to managing outbreaks of disease and protecting national and international health security.

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Conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean Region impacted health infrastructure and compromised the success of the region’s measles elimination goal. At the same time that rates of migration and displacement skyrocketed, the number of measles cases in the region doubled, from 10,072 cases in 2010 to 20,898 in 2015.  

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Key Idea

An analysis in India suggested that children aged 12–59 months who did not receive measles vaccination in infancy were three times more likely to die than those vaccinated against measles. Children from lower caste households who were not vaccinated in infancy had the highest risk of mortality (odds ratio, 8.9). A 27% increase in child mortality was attributable to failure to vaccinate against measles in the study population. Measles vaccine seems to have a non-specific reducing effect on overall child mortality in this population. If true, children in lower castes may reap the greatest gains in survival.

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In a 2014 review of the non-specific effects of measles vaccines, among others, the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts indicated that some studies of measles vaccine were suggestive (but not conclusive) of a beneficial effect of measles vaccine on mortality beyond the expected direct effect of the vaccine against measles.

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Key Idea

Declining child mortality results in decreased fertility (birth rates), influencing a demographic transition on the national and regional scale. Improvements in public health are at the heart of the this transition due to improved sanitation, immunization programs, antibiotics, and contraceptives.

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Key Idea

In a review of recent studies, researchers show that administration of influenza vaccine during pregnancy adds 200 grams to newborn weight, and that PCV7 vaccine given to infants translates into an additional 500 grams of growth in the first 6 months of life. In addition, maternal influenza vaccine led to a 15% reduction in low birth-weight.

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In a study of families living on 24 plantations in Indonesia, the community immunization rate was found to be protective against thinness for age in children. In other words, children in communities with higher overall levels of immunization had better nutritional status.

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A study of Kenyan children under 5 years of age found immunization with polio, BCG, DPT, and measles to be protective against stunting in young children; they were 27% less likely to be stunted than unimmunized children under age 2 years. In addition, children with diarrhea and cough in the 2 weeks prior to the survey were 80-90% more likely to be underweight or to suffer from wasting.

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Key Idea

In Rwanda, the number of hospital admissions for diarrhea and rotavirus fell substantially after rotavirus vaccine (RVV) introduction, including among older children age-ineligible for vaccination. This suggests indirect protection through reduced transmission of rotavirus. Two years after RVV introduction, the country had nearly 400 fewer hospital admissions for diarrhea among young children.

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Key Idea

Multiple studies show that

  1. Diarrhea and pneumonia impair children’s growth and that underlying malnutrition is a major risk factor for these conditions.
  2. “Episodes of diarrhea may predispose to pneumonia in undernourished children” and
  3. Immunization against influenza (in mothers) and Streptococcus pneumoniae may improve infant growth. In addition, new studies from Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, and Israel further support the paradigm that malnutrition is a key risk factor for diarrhea and pneumonia.

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Key Idea

A prospective case-control study conducted in several developing countries found that children with moderate-to-severe diarrhea grew significantly less in length in the two months following their episode compared to age- and gender-matched controls.

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In a study conducted in Southern India, Pneumococcal carriage at age 2 months was associated with a 3-fold risk of stunting and decreased weight, length, and length-for-age by 6 months of age. Pneumococcal carriage at 4 months of age did not affect growth.

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A study of Kenyan children under 5 years of age found that children with diarrhea and cough in the 2 weeks prior to the survey were 80-90% more likely to be underweight or to suffer from wasting.

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Key Idea

In a recent review of data from developing countries, researchers found that episodes of diarrhea may predispose undernourished children to pneumonia.

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Key Idea

Assuming 90% coverage, a program in The Gambia using a 9-valent PCV (PCV9) would prevent approximately 630 hospitalizations, 40 deaths, and 1000 DALYs over the first 5 years of life of a birth cohort. The estimated cost would be $670 per DALY averted in The Gambia.

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Key Idea

In Gambia, 58% of children who survived a bout of pneumococcal meningitis “had clinical sequelae; half of them had major disability preventing normal adaptation to social life” (mental retardation, hearing loss, motor abnormalities, seizures).

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In a systematic literature review of studies in Africa, the authors conclude: “Bacterial meningitis in Africa is associated with high mortality and risk of neuropsychological sequelae. Pneumococcal and Hib meningitis kill approximately one third of affected children and cause clinically evident sequelae in a quarter of survivors prior to hospital discharge. The three leading causes of bacterial meningitis are vaccine preventable, and routine use of conjugate vaccines could provide substantial health and economic benefits through the prevention of childhood meningitis cases, deaths, and disability.”

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Key Idea

Children in slums suffer from higher rates of diarrheal and respiratory illness, malnutrition, and have lower vaccination rates. Mothers residing in slums are more poorly educated and less likely to receive antenatal care and skilled birth assistance.

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Key Idea

Immunization against tetanus, pertussis, and influenza during pregnancy has been shown to have a profound affect on the health of the mother and fetus and increases survival of infants in their first months of life.

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Key Idea

Tens of millions of volunteers, social mobilizers, and health workers have participated in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The program contributes to efforts to deliver other health benefits, including health systems strengthening. Polio eradication legacy efforts include documenting and applying the lessons learned from polio eradication, and transitioning the capacities, assets, and processes of polio to other key health priorities.

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Key Idea

The Government of Nigeria used the Incident Management System (IMS) to establish a national Emergency Operations Center (EOC) as part of a new national emergency plan for the global polio eradication initiative. The use of IMS through the EOC changed the operational tempo, accountability measures, and programmatic success of the polio program. This existing infrastructure was in place and leveraged to contain the outbreak of Ebola.

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Key Idea

This study investigated the cost-effectiveness of multiple interventions against childhood pneumonia (including vaccination) and found that different combinations of expanded vaccine coverage with community or facility-based management, nutritional programs, or indoor air pollution measures maximized child health by providing the greatest health yield per dollar spent.

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A systematic review of studies examining the broader economic impact of vaccination in low-middle income countries (LMICs) found that vaccination programs may improve the financial sustainability and affordability of healthcare programs in LMICs. The use of vaccines as part of a treatment cluster, or in combination with other infrastructure projects (such as water management systems) to maximize community health outcomes, offers opportunities for cost sharing between programs.

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Key Idea

In Rwanda, HPV vaccine introduction through a new school-based delivery program provided the opportunity to offer additional health services to all school-children (girls and boys), including health promotion sessions, de-worming and opportunities for voluntary, free circumcision.

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Key Idea

The Government of Nigeria used the Incident Management System (IMS) to establish a national Emergency Operations Center (EOC) as part of a new national emergency plan for the global polio eradication initiative. The use of IMS through the EOC changed the operational tempo, accountability measures, and programmatic success of the polio program. This existing infrastructure was in place and leveraged to contain the outbreak of Ebola.

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Key Idea

This paper presents the first cost-benefit comparison of improved water supply investments and cholera vaccination programs. The study results showed that improved water supply interventions combined with targeted cholera vaccination programs are much more likely to yield attractive cost-benefit ratio outcomes than a community-based vaccination program alone.

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A systematic review of studies examining the broader economic impact of vaccination in low-middle income countries (LMICs) found that vaccination programs may improve the financial sustainability and affordability of healthcare programs in LMICs. The use of vaccines as part of a treatment cluster, or in combination with other infrastructure projects (such as water management systems) to maximize community health outcomes, offers opportunities for cost sharing between programs.

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Key Idea

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.

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Key Idea

An analysis of rotavirus vaccine introduction in two Latin American countries (Honduras and Peru) suggests that the introduction of the vaccine might have had a favorable impact on coverage and timing of other similarly scheduled vaccinations.

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Key Idea

Increased uptake of immunization for vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, could save the lives of thousands of mothers and children each year. The disease burden of tetanus, influenza, and pertussis has been minimized in many countries through maternal immunization, but wider applications of this strategy are now needed.

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Key Idea

In Rwanda, HPV vaccine introduction through a new school-based delivery program provided the opportunity to offer additional health services to all school-children (girls and boys), including health promotion sessions, de-worming and opportunities for voluntary, free circumcision.

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Key Idea

Two years after rotavirus vaccine introduction in Rwanda, the country saw nearly 400 fewer hospital admissions for diarrhea among young children at 24 district hospitals.

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A literature review of impact evaluations from multiple countries following introduction of rotavirus vaccine showed a 32% median reduction in hospitalizations due to acute gastroenteritis (AGE) in children <1 year of age and a 38% median reduction in children <5 years. Laboratory confirmed rotavirus hospitalizations fell by 80% and 67% in children <1 and <5 years, respectively, after introduction of rotavirus vaccine. In high mortality setting, AGE decreased by 46% in children <5 years.

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Key Idea

Globally, coverage of the third dose of DTP is 8% higher among urban dwellers compared to children raised in a rural environment.

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Key Idea

Among the principal causes of death in young children, 60.7% of deaths occurred as a result of diarrhea, 52.3% of deaths occurred as a result of pneumonia, 44.8% of deaths occurred as a result of measles, and 57.3% of deaths occurred as a result of malaria are attributable to under nutrition.

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