Authors: Ounnavong P, Chanthavilay P, Khampanisong P, Reinharz D, Muller CP, Black AP
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.
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.
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.
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.