Intensification of integrated immunization services to recover routine vaccination coverage and bring COVID-19 vaccine to the population of Iraq in 2022.

Publication date: Feb 27, 2024

COVID-19 seriously impacted routine immunization (RI) in Iraq. Coverage declined to a 6-year low in 2021, and COVID-19 vaccination uptake was slow. In response, government implemented intensification of integrated immunization services (3IS), a nationwide approach comprising regular outreach sessions of COVID-19 vaccination and RI for children who had either missed doses or never commenced scheduled vaccination (zero-dose children). We describe the 3IS and its impact on vaccination coverage in Iraq. 3IS comprised new outreach sessions for urban and rural communities where administrative data suggested there were gaps in coverage. Groups of six personnel from each of 1,321 primary healthcare centres implemented six outreach sessions per month during February-November 2022. Community engagement was an integral component. We compared RI administrative data (2019-2022) and data reported during 3IS activities to assess its impact. In total 4,189,859 vaccine doses were administered during 72,495 3IS outreach sessions, over one-fifth of 19,106,849 vaccine doses administered in Iraq over these 10 months. Among them, 957,874 (22. 9 %) were COVID-19 vaccines, adding slightly to national coverage, and 3,231,985 (77. 1 %) were RI vaccines, dramatically reducing zero-dose children, adding 18 %, 25 %, 21 %, and 31 % to 2022 penta1, penta3, measles first-dose and MMR1 vaccine coverage, and contributing to national coverage of 102. 2 %, 94. 5 %, 91. 8 % and 96. 3 % for these vaccines during February-November, respectively. Moreover, 3IS sessions delivered 133,528 doses of tetanus toxoid, 16,353 doses of adult HepB vaccine, and 315,032 vitamin A doses to eligible individuals. In the context of global encouragement to integrate vaccination services, Iraq’s 3IS approach enabled dramatic improvements in RI coverage, virtual elimination of zero-dose status among children born during the pandemic, and small improvements in COVID-19 and adult vaccination. Our findings provide lessons for future integrated primary care towards universal health coverage in Iraq, and for other countries yet to undertake integration.

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Concepts Keywords
Pandemic COVID-19 pandemic
Rural COVID-19 vaccine
Vaccination Integration
Routine immunization


Type Source Name
disease VO immunization
disease VO vaccination coverage
disease VO COVID-19 vaccine
disease VO population
disease MESH COVID-19
disease VO vaccination
disease VO dose
disease VO vaccine
disease MESH measles
pathway KEGG Measles
drug DRUGBANK Clostridium tetani toxoid antigen (formaldehyde inactivated)
drug DRUGBANK Vitamin A

Original Article

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