Strengthening routine immunization through measles-rubella elimination

Vaccine. 2018 Sep 5;36(37):5645-5650. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.07.029. Epub 2018 Jul 21.


The 2016 mid-term review of the Global Measles-Rubella Strategic Plan 2012-20 for achieving measles-rubella elimination concluded that the full potential of strategies and activities to strengthen routine immunization (RI) service delivery had not been met. In December 2017, we contacted WHO and partner agency immunization staff in all six WHO Regions who identified 23 countries working on measles or rubella elimination that have implemented examples of recommended activities to improve RI, adapted to their needs. Among those examples, opportunities to strengthen RI through implementing supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) were reported most frequently, including advocacy for immunization and educational activities targeted at the public and skills training targeted at health professionals. The expansion of cold chain capacity to accommodate supplies required for SIAs facilitated widening RI service delivery to reach more communities, introduce new vaccines, and reduce the risk of vaccine stock-outs. Substantial numbers of under-vaccinated children, according to the national immunization schedule, have been identified during SIAs, but it is not possible to confirm whether these children actually received missing RI doses. Micro-planning exercises for SIAs have generated data that permitted the revision of catchment populations for fixed site and outreach RI services. Some countries reported using the opportunity afforded by measles/rubella elimination to strengthen overall vaccine-preventable disease surveillance and outbreak preparedness and to introduce mandatory school-entry vaccination requirements covering other vaccines in addition to measles and rubella. Unfortunately, we were unable to obtain information regarding the cost, impact or sustainability of these activities. The evaluation of the many other strategies that have been deployed in recent years to strengthen RI systems and raise vaccination coverage was beyond the scope of this survey. We conclude by providing recommendations to encourage more countries to adapt and implement a comprehensive set of RI-strengthening activities in association with the MR elimination goal.

Keywords: Measles elimination; Routine immunization; Rubella elimination; Supplementary immunization activities; Vaccination coverage; Vaccine-preventable disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Eradication*
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Immunization Programs / organization & administration*
  • Immunization Schedule
  • Male
  • Measles / prevention & control*
  • Measles Vaccine / administration & dosage
  • Rubella / prevention & control*
  • Rubella Vaccine / administration & dosage
  • Schools
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccination Coverage / statistics & numerical data
  • World Health Organization


  • Measles Vaccine
  • Rubella Vaccine