Introduction: Vaccines procured for low-income countries are often packaged in multi-dose vials to reduce program costs. To avoid wastage, health workers may refrain from opening a vial if few children attend an immunization session, possibly leading to lower coverage. Lowering the number of doses in a vial may increase coverage and reduce wastage.
Methods: We used a mixed methods approach to measure the effects of switching from conventional 10-dose measles containing vaccine (MCV) vials to 5-dose MCV vials on coverage and open vial wastage in 14 districts purposely selected from two provinces in Zambia. The districts were paired based on the number of health facilities and the average size of the health facility catchment population. One district from each pair was randomly allocated to receive 5-dose vials while the other continued with the conventional vials. We applied propensity score matched difference-in-difference analysis to estimate intervention effects on coverage using pre-intervention household survey and post-intervention household survey after 11 months of the intervention. The intervention effects on wastage rates were estimated from multivariate analysis of the administrative data. Key informant interviews were conducted to better understand health workers' behavior and preferences at baseline, midline and endline, and analyzed using thematic analysis techniques.
Results: MCV coverage rates increased across both arms for both doses. A five percentage-point intervention effect was detected for MCV1 and 3.5 percentage-point effect for MCV2. The MCV wastage rate was 47% lower in facilities using 5-dose vials (16.2%) versus 10-dose vials (30.5%). Healthcare workers reported being more willing to open a 5-dose vial than a 10-dose vial for one child, as they were less concerned about wastage.
Discussion: Switching 10-dose MCV vials to 5-dose vials improved coverage, decreased wastage, and improved willingness to open a vial. These findings can contribute to strategies for reducing missed opportunities for vaccination.
Keywords: Doses per container; Health worker; Household survey; Immunization coverage; Measles; Multi-dose vial; Wastage.
Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.