1.4.4  Reduce missed vaccination opportunities and trace defaulters

It is common in Ethiopia to see many children and mothers who have been to a health facility, but have not been immunized. Thus, another important strategy is to reduce missed opportunities and trace defaulters.

Reasons for missed immunizations

It is important that you check whether or not children and mothers are immunized whenever they come into contact with the health service. If they have missed the opportunity of being immunized during their earlier visits, then you should immunize them. You will learn how to give immunizations in Study Session 4.

Sometimes some children are not given the vaccine at the right time because they have a contraindication — a medical reason for not giving the vaccine either temporarily or permanently, such as a serious illness or high-grade fever (38.5ºC or above). Contraindications are described in Study Sessions 2, 3 and 7. However, very few children have genuine reasons for not vaccinating them at all. Immunization should not be missed if the child has a mild illness.

Tracing defaulters

Have you come across children who started the immunization programme, but have not completed the schedule? These children are still at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases. It is therefore essential to keep a proper registration system of vaccinations, and to establish a community network for tracing defaulters — i.e. people who fail to complete a course of immunization or treatment. You will learn about EPI registration and defaulter tracing in Study Session 8 and a system for identifying them in Study Session 10.

1.4.3  Increase the quality of immunization services

1.4.5  Improve public awareness and community participation in immunization programmes