Background: Maternal neonatal tetanus (MNT) was eliminated from Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR) in 2014. WHO recommends 80% coverage of 2 or more tetanus vaccinations (TT2+) in pregnancy to maintain MNT control. Vaccination coverage in Lao PDR varies among regions although the reasons are not clear.
Methods: 185 pregnant women giving birth in three district hospitals in Savannakhet province, Lao PDR were recruited. A questionnaire was administered to determine factors associated with seroprotection and blood was taken from mother and cord blood to be tested for anti-tetanus antibodies by ELISA.
Results: 77% of mothers and 79% of newborns had sufficiently protective antibody titres (>0.5 IU/ml) against tetanus. Only 70% of the mothers received one dose of TT vaccination during antenatal care (ANC) consultation and 45% received the recommended two injections. Although most of the vaccination took place during ANC 1 and 2, many were missed at these time-points. Anti-tetanus seroprotection in the mothers was associated with maternal age, number of ANC visits, number of TT vaccinations during and before pregnancy and gestational age.
Conclusion: Seroprevalence of anti-tetanus antibodies in mothers and newborns was intermediate but TT2+ coverage was low in healthcare settings in Lao PDR. TT2+ coverage during ANC is likely to be significantly lower in settings with less robust ANC practices. Missed opportunities to vaccinate in ANC 1 and 2 suggest a need to promote vaccine awareness and vaccination at first ANC visit. A booster dose of TT containing vaccine should be considered for children aged between 4 and 7 years old.
Keywords: Anti-tetanus antibodies; Laos; Maternal and neonatal tetanus; Seroprevalence; Vaccine.
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