Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 3

immunisation Related Abstracts

3 World War II Vaccination Scheme as a Determinant of Gender-Specific Differences in Anti-Tetanus Antibody Levels in the British Elderly Population

Authors: Myrto Vlazaki


Tetanus is a non-transmissible, preventable bacterial disease with high mortality. In the U.K., the demographic group systematically accounting for a large proportion of the infections notified to the authorities over the years have been the elderly (> 60 years old). The 2009 seroepidemiological study for tetanus in England reports a gender-age interaction for the +70, with males having significantly higher anti-tetanus antibody levels than females. A systematic review of the literature was carried out to characterise: I. the seroepidemiology of tetanus in economically developed countries with similar immunisation schemes to the U.K., introduced in the 1960’s. II. the factors leading to differential vaccine uptake between males and females in 1910-1945 (corresponding to ages of 60-95 in 2005). III. the immune response elicited by anti-tetanus immunisation in males and females IV. the value of catch-up immunisation in the elderly Similar age- and gender- differences in anti-tetanus antibody levels are noted in other countries. Gender differences in immune responses elicited by vaccination are not consistent with the finding that elder females are less well protected against tetanus compared to their male counterparts. Attention is drawn to the selective anti-tetanus immunisation scheme introduced in the U.K. in 1938, specific to the World War II conscripts. The age-specific immunity gap observed amongst the +70 could be explained as the by-product of that early scheme targetting mostly males. Introducing anti-tetanus vaccination in the +70 in the U.K. could help bridge the immunity gap between males and females and reduce the overall tetanus susceptibility of this age group.

Keywords: Elderly, Tetanus, World War II, immunisation, gender-specific differences, seroepidemiology

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2 Assessing Diagnostic and Evaluation Tools for Use in Urban Immunisation Programming: A Critical Narrative Review and Proposed Framework

Authors: Tim Crocker-Buque, Sandra Mounier-Jack, Natasha Howard


Background: Due to both the increasing scale and speed of urbanisation, urban areas in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) host increasingly large populations of under-immunized children, with the additional associated risks of rapid disease transmission in high-density living environments. Multiple interdependent factors are associated with these coverage disparities in urban areas and most evidence comes from relatively few countries, e.g., predominantly India, Kenya, Nigeria, and some from Pakistan, Iran, and Brazil. This study aimed to identify, describe, and assess the main tools used to measure or improve coverage of immunisation services in poor urban areas. Methods: Authors used a qualitative review design, including academic and non-academic literature, to identify tools used to improve coverage of public health interventions in urban areas. Authors selected and extracted sources that provided good examples of specific tools, or categories of tools, used in a context relevant to urban immunization. Diagnostic (e.g., for data collection, analysis, and insight generation) and programme tools (e.g., for investigating or improving ongoing programmes) and interventions (e.g., multi-component or stand-alone with evidence) were selected for inclusion to provide a range of type and availability of relevant tools. These were then prioritised using a decision-analysis framework and a tool selection guide for programme managers developed. Results: Authors reviewed tools used in urban immunisation contexts and tools designed for (i) non-immunization and/or non-health interventions in urban areas, and (ii) immunisation in rural contexts that had relevance for urban areas (e.g., Reaching every District/Child/ Zone). Many approaches combined several tools and methods, which authors categorised as diagnostic, programme, and intervention. The most common diagnostic tools were cross-sectional surveys, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, secondary analysis of routine data, and geographical mapping of outcomes, resources, and services. Programme tools involved multiple stages of data collection, analysis, insight generation, and intervention planning and included guidance documents from WHO (World Health Organisation), UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund), USAID (United States Agency for International Development), and governments, and articles reporting on diagnostics, interventions, and/or evaluations to improve urban immunisation. Interventions involved service improvement, education, reminder/recall, incentives, outreach, mass-media, or were multi-component. The main gaps in existing tools were an assessment of macro/policy-level factors, exploration of effective immunization communication channels, and measuring in/out-migration. The proposed framework uses a problem tree approach to suggest tools to address five common challenges (i.e. identifying populations, understanding communities, issues with service access and use, improving services, improving coverage) based on context and available data. Conclusion: This study identified many tools relevant to evaluating urban LMIC immunisation programmes, including significant crossover between tools. This was encouraging in terms of supporting the identification of common areas, but problematic as data volumes, instructions, and activities could overwhelm managers and tools are not always suitably applied to suitable contexts. Further research is needed on how best to combine tools and methods to suit local contexts. Authors’ initial framework can be tested and developed further.

Keywords: Poverty, Health Equity, Urban Health, immunisation, low and middle-income countries

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1 Feasibility of Implementing Digital Healthcare Technologies to Prevent Disease: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of a Digital Intervention Piloted in the National Health Service

Authors: Rosie Cooper, Tracey Chantler, Ellen Pringle, Sadie Bell, Emily Edmundson, Heidi Nielsen, Sheila Roberts, Michael Edelstein, Sandra Mounier Jack


Introduction: In line with the National Health Service’s (NHS) long-term plan, the NHS is looking to implement more digital health interventions. This study explores a case study in this area: a digital intervention used by NHS Trusts in London to consent adolescents for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) immunisation. Methods: The electronic consent intervention was implemented in 14 secondary schools in inner city, London. These schools were statistically matched with 14 schools from the same area that were consenting using paper forms. Schools were matched on deprivation and English as an additional language. Consent form return rates and HPV vaccine uptake were compared quantitatively between intervention and matched schools. Data from observations of immunisation sessions and school feedback forms were analysed thematically. Individual and group interviews were undertaken with implementers parents and adolescents and a focus group with adolescents were undertaken and analysed thematically. Results: Twenty-eight schools (14 e-consent schools and 14 paper consent schools) comprising 3219 girls (1733 in paper consent schools and 1486 in e-consent schools) were included in the study. The proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals, with English as an additional language and students' ethnicity profile, was similar between the e-consent and paper consent schools. Return of consent forms was not increased by the implementation of the e-consent intervention. There was no difference in the proportion of pupils that were vaccinated at the scheduled vaccination session between the paper (n=14) and e-consent (n=14) schools (80.6% vs. 81.3%, p=0.93). The transition to using the system was not straightforward, whilst schools and staff understood the potential benefits, they found it difficult to adapt to new ways of working which removed some level or control from schools. Part of the reason for lower consent form return in e-consent schools was that some parents found the intervention difficult to use due to limited access to the internet, finding it hard to open the weblink, language barriers, and in some cases, the system closed a few days prior to sessions. Adolescents also highlighted the potential for e-consent interventions to by-pass their information needs. Discussion: We would advise caution against dismissing the e-consent intervention because it did not achieve its goal of increasing the return of consent forms. Given the problems embedding a news service, it was encouraging that HPV vaccine uptake remained stable. Introducing change requires stakeholders to understand, buy in, and work together with others. Schools and staff understood the potential benefits of using e-consent but found the new ways of working removed some level of control from schools, which they found hard to adapt to, possibly suggesting implementing digital technology will require an embedding process. Conclusion: The future direction of the NHS will require implementation of digital technology. Obtaining electronic consent from parents could help streamline school-based adolescent immunisation programmes. Findings from this study suggest that when implementing new digital technologies, it is important to allow for a period of embedding to enable them to become incorporated in everyday practice.

Keywords: Prevention, Digital, Consent, immunisation

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