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The Four Stages For Carrying Out Mass Immunization Programs

Aug 17, 2007
Underdeveloped countries and extremely poor regions, such as Nigeria in Africa, depend on massive vaccination campaigns to protect the population from crippling or deadly preventable diseases.

Programs geared to immunize millions involve the efforts of many, many people such as volunteers, medical health practitioners, and nurses, and campaigns must be very carefully organized to prevent failure. There are four major stages involved in setting up and carrying out massive vaccination programs for millions of people.

The first stage of mass vaccination campaigns involves planning. Partners, agencies and organizations must work together and be completely supportive of one another if a campaign is to function properly.

Communication is extremely important, as is flexibility and being open to new solutions or different ways of doing things. Coordination involves having a firm plan on how to reach populations and budgeting accordingly is crucial. Who will do what is clearly laid out and everyone is aware of their responsibilities.

The second stage that needs ample consideration in a massive campaign is the trip a vaccine will take from its birthplace to the individual receiving the life-saving immunization.

For the measles vaccine, this journey is commonly referred to as the 'Cold Chain,' as the vaccine must remain cold the whole trip, from laboratory to child's arm. Sufficient supply needs are again covered in this stage of the campaign, and the planning of the transportation route of the vaccine to its vaccination post solidifies clearly.

The logistics of having a vaccine reach an individual also includes creating the demand segment of a supply-and-demand situation. Individuals need to come to the vaccination post to receive immunization, which is not always an easy task.

Some groups of population avoid being vaccinated at all costs, hiding out or simply refusing to be immunized. On the other hand, sometimes the vaccination campaign works so well, individuals from outside the targeted area travel to posts to be immunized and coverage reaches statistics of over 100%. The measles vaccine supply needs are often estimated to be 10% over the population of the targeted group.

Social mobilization is the third stage in a successful immunization campaign. Getting word of the impending vaccinations out there to the population isn't always easy, as communication in underdeveloped countries is often by word-of-mouth only.

Workers and volunteers spread the word about the importance of immunization and use neutral symbols (such as the Red Cross emblem) to instil trust. Education about the safety of vaccination is important, and those involved in spreading the word do their best to set superstitions, myths and false rumors to rest.

Perhaps the most important phase of a mass vaccination campaign is the follow-up stage, where statistics about success rates are collected. Proof that immunization actually works and reduces crippling diseases and death is the very thing that will draw more people to vaccination stations in the future.

Knowing that being vaccinated can prevent sickness is of utmost importance to dispelling myths and rumors created by ignorance, lack of education and anti-governmental pressures. Future immunization campaigns learn from the success and failures of past projects, making improvements to key areas.
About the Author
Andi Michaels writes for a number of web sites including How To Stay Healthy where there are many more articles on immunization . Also go to Well Spoken Audio where there are over 5000 informative and entertaining audiobooks including many on health and fitness
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