Week 1: Reducing inequities and improving coverage

How do we increase vaccination coverage for all ages with a system almost exclusively designed for newborns and babies?

Over 2,200 immunization professionals from 96 countries registered to participate in the World Health Organization Scholar programme’s first open webinar series on reducing inequities and improving coverage for immunization. The inaugural webinar led by WHO’s Samir Sodha focused on immunization in the second year of life (2YL).

Introducing the series, the World Health Organization’s Diane Chang Blanc reminded participants of the pledge that all individuals and communities should enjoy lives free from vaccine-preventable diseases. “That was part of the vision for the Decade of Vaccines,” she explained. “As we move into the next decade, we want to achieve that collectively as a global community.”

790 Scholars from 37 countries were in attendance, with a third connecting from the district level. 300 of them have been selected by the World Health Organization to participate in the first cohort of the WHO Scholar Level 2 certification in reducing inequities and improving coverage.

By 6 July 2019, this cohort will create hundreds of peer-reviewed, context-specific action plans to improve immunization outcomes, helping to transform WHO guidelines into action.

WHO Technical Officer Samir Sodha explained: “Today’s immunization system is currently almost exclusively designed for a one year old population. We can offer vaccines to a multiple-age population (newborns, pregnant women seniors). But, for each population, we need to develop unique strategies and platforms to get to them.”

Establishing and strengthening immunization in the second year of life offers a first step to establishing a life course approach for immunization “as it doesn’t necessarily require a new platform.” Nevertheless, Samir cautions that expanding coverage to the second year of life is not necessarily straightforward and requires a system-wide approach.