Immunization is recognized as an essential health intervention. Strong health systems are needed to deliver and scale-up new vaccines and to improve immunization coverage. 1 in 5 children still miss out on routine life-saving immunizations that could avert 1.5 million deaths each year from preventable diseases. It is critical to strengthen routine immunization systems. These need to provide regular, reliable services to protect children as soon as they are eligible for vaccination. It involves building capacity at the national and subnational levels in the essential components of the routine immunization system, including training more health workers, skilled managers and providing supportive supervision, micro-planning vaccination operations and ensuring clear lines of responsibility, cold chain and supply chain management, improving vaccine delivery to reach those living in remote and inaccessible areas, ensuring vaccine affordability, collecting and utilizing quality data for decision making, good governance, adequate health systems financing and building partnerships with communities to increase awareness and demand for immunization by communities.
The other challenge is supporting the introduction of new vaccines so that they are successfully integrated into the immunization program. There are greater demands on health care workers to correctly administer additional vaccines, communicate about them to caregivers, there is a huge impact on the cold chain and logistics management; new and additional data to collect, analyze, and interpret, and greater costs if these relatively expensive vaccines are not used correctly.
Short-term, mass campaigns are held above routine immunization. These require intensive planning and resources, and can divert attention away from the routine immunization system. It is key to ensure that these campaigns are used strengthen routine immunization rather than detract from it and helping to design approaches to achieve lasting impact.