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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Does improving maternal knowledge of vaccines impact infant immunization rates? A community-based randomized-controlled trial in Karachi, Pakistan

Aatekah Owais1, Beenish Hanif1, Amna R Siddiqui2, Ajmal Agha2 and Anita KM Zaidi1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

2 Department of Community Health Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:239  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-239

Published: 17 April 2011

Abstract

Background

In Pakistan, only 59-73% of children 12-23 months of age are fully immunized. This randomized, controlled trial was conducted to assess the impact of a low-literacy immunization promotion educational intervention for mothers living in low-income communities of Karachi on infant immunization completion rates.

Methods

Three hundred and sixty-six mother-infant pairs, with infants aged 6 weeks, were enrolled and randomized into either the intervention or control arm between August - November 2008. The intervention, administered by trained community health workers, consisted of three targeted pictorial messages regarding vaccines. The control group received general health promotion messages based on Pakistan's Lady Health Worker program curriculum. Assessment of DPT/Hepatitis B vaccine completion (3 doses) was conducted 4-months after enrollment. A Poisson regression model was used to estimate effect of the intervention. The multivariable Poisson regression model included maternal education, paternal occupation, ownership of home, cooking fuel used at home, place of residence, the child's immunization status at enrollment, and mother's perception about the impact of immunization on child's health.

Results

Baseline characteristics among the two groups were similar. At 4 month assessment, among 179 mother-infant pairs in the intervention group, 129 (72.1%) had received all 3 doses of DPT/Hepatitis B vaccine, whereas in the control group 92/178 (51.7%) had received all 3 doses. Multivariable analysis revealed a significant improvement of 39% (adjusted RR = 1.39; 95% CI: 1.06-1.81) in DPT-3/Hepatitis B completion rates in the intervention group.

Conclusion

A simple educational intervention designed for low-literate populations, improved DPT-3/Hepatitis B vaccine completion rates by 39%. These findings have important implications for improving routine immunization rates in Pakistan.