Missed opportunities and barriers for vaccination: a descriptive analysis of private and public health facilities in four African countries

Pan Afr Med J. 2017 Jun 21;27(Suppl 3):6. doi: 10.11604/pamj.supp.2017.27.3.12083. eCollection 2017.


Introduction: Missed opportunities and barriers to vaccination limit progress toward achieving high immunization coverage and other global immunization goals. Little is known about vaccination practices contributing to missed opportunities and barriers among private healthcare providers in Africa.

Methods: Service Provision Assessments (SPA) of representative samples of health facilities in four African countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal, Malawi) in 2010-2015 were used to describe missed opportunities and barriers for vaccination in public, private for-profit, private not-for-profit and faith-based facilities. Data included vaccination practices, observations during sick child and antenatal visits, and exit interviews following sick child visits.

Results: Data from 3,219 health facilities, 11,613 sick child visits and 8,698 antenatal visits were included. A smaller proportion of for-profit facilities offered child vaccination services (country range, 25-37%) than did public facilities (range, 90-96%). The proportion of facilities offering pentavalent vaccine (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type b antigens) daily ranged 0-77% across countries and facility types. Less than 33% of for-profit facilities in any country offered measles vaccination daily. A minority of public or private providers assessed the child's vaccination status during a sick child visit (range by country and facility type, 14-44%), or offered tetanus toxoid during antenatal visits (range, 19-51%). Very few providers discussed the importance of newborn vaccination.

Conclusion: Substantial missed opportunities for, and barriers to, vaccination were identified across this representative sample of health facilities in four African countries. Strategies are needed to ensure that private and public providers implement practices to minimize barriers and missed opportunities for vaccination.

Keywords: Africa; Immunization; Service Provision Assessment survey; vaccination.

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Child
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Facilities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Office Visits / statistics & numerical data
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data*
  • Vaccination Coverage
  • Vaccines / administration & dosage*


  • Vaccines