Health Care Workers Contribution to Missed Immunization Opportunities in Children
This study was aimed at identifying the health workers' knowledge and inappropriate practices that potentially contribute to missed immunization opportunities in children. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in August 2007 among Primary Health Care workers in Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria on the knowledge and practices of childhood immunization. It focused on their knowledge and practices of the national immunization schedule and false contraindications to childhood immunization. All data generated was analyzed using Epi Info version 6.04d statistical package. Most of the primary health care workers, 285 (76.0%) had adequate knowledge of the National Immunization Schedule for children with accurate knowledge of vaccine dosages, routes of administration and intervals between doses. However, their knowledge of false contraindications to immunization was low. Two-thirds of the health care workers, 65.9% [95%CI=60.0-70.8] had poor knowledge of the importance of routine screening of children for immunization when they presented to the health facilities for other curative services. Similarly, less than a quarter of the health care workers, 50 (13.3%) knew that HIVpositive status of women was not a contraindication for the immunization of their children. In the same vein only about a quarter of the health care workers 85 (22.7%) immunized severely malnourished children (p=0.0000). Also, less than half of the health care workers, 145 (35.7%) immunized children with mild feverish conditions (t0<38.50 C) (p=0.00002). Poor knowledge of false contraindications to immunization by primary health workers potentially contribute to missed immunization opportunities in children. Periodic capacity building and integrated supportive supervision is advocated to eliminate misconceptions about immunization among primary health care workers.
Key words: Health care workers, childhood missed immunization opportunities, Nigeria.