Incomplete immunity: Tetanus vaccination targets missed in most districts

Tor Ghar records lowest coverage in the five-injection anti-tetanus drive.

July 17, 2013
vaccination teams in many districts have not administered the full five injections to the number of women targeted. PHOTO: FILE

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa health department has missed targets for vaccinating pregnant women in a number of districts.

A vaccination campaign aimed at administering a five-TT injection course to prevent the onset of tetanus in pregnant mothers and their children was conducted by the health department.

However, vaccination teams in many districts have not administered the full five injections to the number of women targeted. Although coverage for TT-1 and TT-2 shots is moderate to good, TT-4 and TT-5 injections remain extremely neglected.

According to data obtained from the health department, the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) had a target of 470,715 women in all districts during the months from January to June. Of this number, 89% were administered with TT-1, 68% with TT-2 and 17% with TT-3. Only 4% and 2% of the target population was vaccinated with TT-4 and TT-5, respectively.

Ten districts have recorded zero percent coverage in TT-5 injections. The worst off district was Tor Ghar, where the lowest coverage was reported for any of the five shots.

In Tor Ghar, the health department had targeted 4,684 women to be vaccinated against the tetanus disease. Of this target, none of the women were administered with TT-5 while only 4% received the TT-4 injection.

In comparison, targets were crossed for TT-1 administrations in Batagram, Karak and Kohat.

“There are many reasons why low coverage is being observed in some districts,” said an official of the EPI on the condition of anonymity. “In some areas there is a lack of vaccinators and in others there is a shortage of communication officers who provide the relevant information.”

The official further said there were only seven healthcare centres in Tor Ghar, which had difficult mountainous terrain. He added a full explanation on why such low coverage was observed in the district would be obtained by Monday.

The five-TT injections course is given to pregnant women in order to save them and their children from tetanus. The first injection is given as early as possible in pregnancy, while the second is given at least four weeks later.

The third injection, which offers at least five years of immunity, is given at least six months after TT-2 or during a subsequent pregnancy. TT-4 with 10 years of immunity is administered one year after and TT-5, which has the ability to offer immunity for the remainder of a mother’s life, is also administered one year after its predecessor.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2013.

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