Open Access Research article

Measles vaccination coverage estimates from surveys, clinic records, and immune markers in oral fluid and blood: a population-based cross-sectional study

Kyla T Hayford1*, Mohammed S Shomik2, Hassan M Al-Emran3, William J Moss4, David Bishai5 and Orin S Levine1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of International Health, International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 855 N. Wolfe Street, Suite 600, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA

2 International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), Mohakhali, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh

3 Child Health Research Foundation (CHRF), Dhaka Shishu Hospital, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh

4 Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA

5 Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, 615 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:1211  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1211

Published: 20 December 2013



Recent outbreaks of measles and polio in low-income countries illustrate that conventional methods for estimating vaccination coverage do not adequately identify susceptible children. Immune markers of protection against vaccine-preventable diseases in oral fluid (OF) or blood may generate more accurate measures of effective vaccination history, but questions remain about whether antibody surveys are feasible and informative tools for monitoring immunization program performance compared to conventional vaccination coverage indicators. This study compares six indicators of measles vaccination status, including immune markers in oral fluid and blood, from children in rural Bangladesh and evaluates the implications of using each indicator to estimate measles vaccination coverage.


A cross-sectional population-based study of children ages 12–16 months in Mirzapur, Bangladesh, ascertained measles vaccination (MCV1) history from conventional indicators: maternal report, vaccination card records, ‘card + history’ and EPI clinic records. Oral fluid from all participants (n = 1226) and blood from a subset (n = 342) were tested for measles IgG antibodies as indicators of MCV1 history and compared to conventional MCV1 coverage indicators.


Maternal report yielded the highest MCV1 coverage estimates (90.8%), followed by EPI records (88.6%), and card + history (84.2%). Seroprotection against measles by OF (57.3%) was significantly lower than other indicators, even after adjusting for incomplete seroconversion and assay performance (71.5%). Among children with blood results, 88.6% were seroprotected, which was significantly higher than coverage by card + history and OF serostatus but consistent with coverage by maternal report and EPI records. Children with vaccination cards or EPI records were more likely to have a history of receiving MCV1 than those without cards or records. Despite similar MCV1 coverage estimates across most indicators, within-child agreement was poor for all indicators.


Measles IgG antibodies in OF was not a suitable immune marker for monitoring measles vaccination coverage in this setting. Because agreement between conventional MCV1 indicators was mediocre, immune marker surveillance with blood samples could be used to validate conventional MCV1 indicators and generate adjusted results that can be compared across indicators.

Immunization; Vaccination; Immune marker; Surveillance; Measles; Oral fluid; Vaccination card; Maternal report; Bangladesh