Are children on track with their routine immunization schedule in a fragile and protracted conflict state of South Sudan? A community-based cross-sectional study
Idris IO., Tapkigen J., Kabutaulaka G., Ayeni GO., Ayomoh FI., Obwoya JG.
Objectives: The objective of this study was to assess if children aged 0–23 months in a conflict-affected state of South Sudan were on track with their immunization schedule and to identify predisposing factors that affected this study population from being on track with their routine immunization schedule. Design: Community-based cross-sectional study using a semi-structured questionnaire. The binary outcome of interest was defined as being on or off track with routine vaccination schedule. Multivariable logistic regression was used to analyze for the association between the predisposing factors surveyed and being off track with one’s routine immunization schedule. Setting: Rural communities in four counties (Rumbek Center, Rumbek North, Rumbek East and Wulu) of the Western Lakes state in South Sudan during January 10, 2020 to June 10, 2020. Participants: We surveyed 428 children aged 0–23 months and their mothers/caregivers who lived in either of the four counties in the Western Lakes State. Participants were selected using random ballot sampling. Results: More than three-quarters of the children surveyed (75.5%) were off track with their vaccination schedule. Children with an immunization card had 71% reduced odds of being off track with their immunization (AOR = 0.29; 95% CI 0.10–0.83, p-value = 0.021) compared to children without immunization cards. Children who reside near health facilities and do not require transportation to facilities had 87% reduced odds of being off track with their immunization compared to those who lived far and required transport to facilities. Giving an adequate immunization notice before conducting immunization outreach visits to communities was also associated with reduced odds (AOR = 0.27; 95% CI 0.09–0.78. p-value = 0.016) of children being off track with their immunization. Conclusion: This study revealed that most children were off track with their vaccination schedule in South Sudan, which is not only influenced by maternal characteristics but mainly by community- and state-level immunization service delivery mechanisms. Policies and interventions to improve child immunization uptake should prioritize these contextual characteristics.