Seasonal gaps in measles vaccination coverage in Madagascar

K. Mensah, J. M. Heraud, S. Takahashi, A. K. Winter, C. J.E. Metcalf, Amy Wesolowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction: Measles elimination depends on the successful deployment of measles containing vaccine. Vaccination programs often depend on a combination of routine and non-routine services, including supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) and vaccination weeks (VWs), that both aim to vaccinate all eligible children regardless of vaccination history or natural infection. Madagascar has used a combination of these activities to improve measles coverage. However, ongoing massive measles outbreak suggests that the country was in a “honeymoon” period and that coverage achieved needs to be re-evaluated. Although healthcare access is expected to vary seasonally in low resources settings, little evidence exists to quantify temporal fluctuations in routine vaccination, and interactions with other immunization activities. Methods: We used three data sources: national administrative data on measles vaccine delivery from 2013 to 2016, digitized vaccination cards from 49 health centers in 6 health districts, and a survey of health workers. Data were analyzed using linear regressions, analysis of variance, and t-tests. Findings: From 2013 to 2016, the footprint of SIAs and VWs is apparent, with more doses distributed during the relevant timeframes. Routine vaccination decreases in subsequent months, suggesting that additional activities may be interfering with routine services. The majority of missed vaccination opportunities occur during the rainy season. Health facility organization and shortage of vaccine contributed to vaccination gaps. Children born in June were the least likely to be vaccinated on time. Discussion: Evidence that routine vaccination coverage varies over the year and is diminished by other activities suggests that maintaining routine vaccination during SIAs and VWs is a key direction for strengthening immunization programs, ensuring population immunity and avoiding future outbreaks. Funding: Wellcome Trust Fund, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Gates Foundation, National Institutes of Health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • Healthcare access
  • Madagascar
  • Measles
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

Cite this

Mensah, K., Heraud, J. M., Takahashi, S., Winter, A. K., Metcalf, C. J. E., & Wesolowski, A. (2019). Seasonal gaps in measles vaccination coverage in Madagascar. Vaccine.