Introduction: vaccine hesitancy and refusal continue to be a global challenge to reaching immunization targets, especially among those in traditional or fundamentalist religions. The Apostolic faith in Zimbabwe has been historically associated with objection to most medical interventions, including immunization. Methods: we conducted a descriptive analysis of socio-demographic characteristics and vaccine coverage among Apostolic and non-Apostolic adults aged 15-49 years and children aged 12-23 months using the Demographic and Health Survey conducted in Zimbabwe during 2010-2011. We used logistic regression models to estimate associations between the Apostolic religion and receipt of all four basic childhood vaccinations in the Expanded Program on Immunization, receipt of no vaccinations, and availability of child vaccination card. Results: among children aged 12-23 months, 64% had received all doses of the four basic vaccinations, and 12% had received none of the recommended vaccines. A vaccination card was available for 68% of children. There was no significant association between Apostolic faith and completion of all basic vaccinations (aOR=0.90, 95% CI: 0.69-1.17), but Apostolic children were almost twice as likely to have received no basic vaccinations (aOR=1.83, 95% CI: 1.22-2.77) than non-Apostolic children, and they were 32% less likely to have a vaccination card that was available and seen by the interviewer (aOR=0.68, 95% CI: 0.52-0.89). Conclusion: disparities in childhood vaccination coverage and availability of vaccination cards persist for ApostolicS in Zimbabwe. Continued collaboration with Apostolics leaders and additional research to better understand vaccine hesitancy and refine interventions and messaging strategies are needed.
The Pan African Medical Journal 2016;24