Immunizing pregnant women protects infants from influenza, with 56% efficacy in the first 2 months of life

A pooled analysis of three randomized controlled trials conducted in Nepal, Mali, and South Africa between 2011 and 2014 found that immunization during pregnancy provided protection against influenza to young infants from birth through 4 months of age. Protection against infant influenza was greatest in the first 2 months of life, with 56% efficacy, and the pooled efficacy of maternal vaccination to prevent infant laboratory-confirmed influenza up to 6 months of age was 35%.

Integrating family planning and immunization services in Malawi was found to be feasible and beneficial

In this mixed-methods implementation study, routine immunization and family planning services were integrated across health facilities and community sites across two rural districts in Malawi, Dowa and Ntchisi. The total number of women accessing family planning services during the study period increased by 14% while DPT immunization rates for children remained consistent. In interviews, parents and providers found the integration of family planning and immunization services to be feasible and beneficial, indicating a win-win for both services.

Immunization coverage can vary dramatically across regions, with some areas having better access than others

An equity impact analysis of the 2016 Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey dataset identified significant disparities in full immunization coverage across different regions of Ethiopia among children aged up to 36 months. Children in the Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa regions of Ethiopia were 7 times more likely to have full vaccination coverage compared to children living in the Afar region, a rural region with large numbers of pastoralist nomadic communities.

Immunization can reduce child mortality and enhance the immune system’s ability to fight against other diseases

This 2013 review summarizes data from several randomized trials in which measles and tuberculosis vaccines were associated with a substantial reduction in overall child mortality, which cannot be solely explained by prevention of the target disease. These studies suggest that in addition to disease-specific effects, some live vaccines may also provide “nonspecific effects” that enhance the immune system’s ability to protect against additional pathogens.

Administration of vaccines can also decrease childhood deaths from other causes, above and beyond the expected direct impact of the vaccine

Three randomized controlled trials enrolling a total of over 6500 infants over 12 consecutive years in Guinea-Bissau found a 38% reduction in all-cause neonatal mortality associated with early vaccination with BCG. Revisiting these trials to explore the seasonal variation in this effect, it was found that early vaccination with BCG was particularly beneficial when administered between November and January, coincident with peaking malaria infections.

Conflict events can disrupt immunization programs and lead to attacks on health workers

This modeling study examined the impact of conflict events on disease control efforts during an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The model used a timeline of conflict events and an ethnographic appraisal of attacks on health care workers and treatment centers to estimate their impact on the epidemic trajectory of Ebola. Overall, the population-level effectiveness of vaccination was reduced by 43% due to disruptive conflict events. The researchers also found that declining incidence of Ebola was repeatedly reversed by conflict events. This framework can be extended to other diseases and regions experiencing conflict.