Immunizations in Nicaragua

Pediatric Blogs

Nicaragua has a great immunization program. The immunization rate was very poor until the Sandinista government came to power in 1979. The graph below shows the substantial improvement in immunization rates for the first and third doses of diptheria, tetanus, and pertussis and for the third dose of polio. Polio has not been reported since 1990! Tetanus and pertussis continue to be reported, as they are in Canada, most likely due to lack of immunity in adults.

After the revolution, the People's Health Councils organized Jornadas Populares de Salud (People's Health Days). In 1980, an estimated 30,000 volunteers carried out a series of Jornadas and immunized children for polio and measles. Since then the government holds immunization clinics, usually on Sundays, a traditional family day.  

The immunization schedule for Nicaragua is better than Canada in some respects. Nicaragua offers the new rotavirus vaccine. Rotavirus is the most common virus that causes diarrhea in infancy.
Nicaragua has done better than the majority of other Central and South American countries. The 2010 data below are from UNICEF and show the immunization rate for the first and third immunizations for diptheria, pertussis and tetanus. Most worldwide immunization data shows a fall off from the first to the third vaccine. Only very well organized heath programs have high percentages for both. Canada doesn't look good on this graph.  Are the data wrong?  Is immunization over-estimated in many countries? Not sure how to interpret this discrepancy?

I reviewed these data so that I would understand more about what infectious diseases to expect in Nicaragua.  I will inquire about the comprehensiveness of immunization in the region and I will start to evaluate the immunization records that the mothers bring in with visits. If the immunization program is working well in the region, then I will not expect to see diptheria, polio, measles, rotavirus, or German measles, but I might still see chicken pox, whooping cough, and mumps.


DISCLAIMER: This blog was originally posted on Help Nicaraguan Children. Please note, Dr Robson is not accepting donations at this time. However, he would greatly appreciate your comments and suggestions in support of his efforts.