Advocacy, social mobilisation and communication are key components of the successful introduction of new vaccines into childhood immunisation schedules. The development of many new vaccines and the innovation of finance mechanisms, means more efficacious vaccines are becoming available to children in developing countries. At the same time, communication technology is developing at a rapid rate, and with the dramatic decrease in vaccine-preventable diseases over the past few decades, the public have become increasingly exposed to confusing and conflicting information about the need for vaccination. The science of vaccines has become more complex, making effective, clear and consistent communication for healthcare workers and caregivers critical to the uptake of and adherence to life-saving vaccination. The introduction of two new vaccines, the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and the rotavirus vaccine together with the new pentavalent vaccine, which includes inactivated polio vaccine and replaced the former combination vaccine with four antigens, into the South African Expanded Programme on Immunisation over a short period of time, has been met with a number of challenges, some of which led to a lowering of confidence in the Department of Health to deliver on its promises. Had consistent advocacy, social mobilisation and communication efforts not been in place, efforts to make an impact on the burden of disease may not have been as successful. This paper focuses on the lessons learned about effective advocacy with decision makers, social mobilisation, communication with parents and caregivers, and training healthcare workers regarding the introduction of the new vaccines.
- Social mobilisation
- South Africa