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This article is part of the supplement: The fallacy of coverage: uncovering disparities to improve immunization rates through evidence. The Canadian International Immunization Initiative Phase 2 (CIII2) Operational Research Grants

Open Access Introduction

The fallacy of coverage: uncovering disparities to improve immunization rates through evidence. Results from the Canadian International Immunization Initiative Phase 2 - Operational Research Grants

Sharmila L Mhatre1* and Anne-Marie Schryer-Roy2

Author Affiliations

1 International Development Research Centre, 150 Kent Street, Ottawa, Canada

2 AMS Consulting, PO 91-00606, Nairobi, Kenya

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BMC International Health and Human Rights 2009, 9(Suppl 1):S1  doi:10.1186/1472-698X-9-S1-S1

Published: 14 October 2009

Abstract

Immunization can and does save lives. However, the presence of vaccines does not easily translate into every child being vaccinated, and this is what the studies in this journal supplement reveal. From South Asia to West Africa,the evidence presented here reveals what we are calling the fallacy of coverage, going beyond uncovering the real vaccination rates to providing evidence on the reasons for the lack of effective coverage.

The evidence for the fallacy of coverage is part of an operational research program entitled the Canadian International Immunization Initiative Phase 2 (CIII2). Through a competitive peer review process, six research grants were awarded to increase access to and enhance immunization services. This journal supplement provides a forum for the presentation of the results of five of the six studies.

The story of the fallacy of coverage is made up of five theme areas of evidence - timeliness of immunization, social and gender inequities, vaccine efficacy, understanding demand side issues to tailor interventions, and national data sets masking actual district level coverage rates - that reveal the discrepancies in immunization coverage rates and the reasons behind these discrepancies. As part of the story, and to turn around the fallacy of coverage, the studies also provide proof of effective and locally relevant solutions.

Policies and funding, while keeping an eye on future diseases, clearly need to maintain and increase support to address existing vaccine-preventable diseases to increase coverage such that by 2015 we can achieve 90% national vaccination coverage and reach the MDG of reducing mortality rates among children under five by two-thirds.The results from the operational research grants of the CIII2 offer some answers on how to reach this goal by demonstrating how locally generated evidence can inform immunization strategies to ensure that children who need to get vaccinated will get vaccinated, and vaccinated on time.