Keeping kids in school and not compromising education.
VALUE OF VACCINATION
When children aren’t vaccinated against childhood diseases, there are not only health implications. Even if the infection is not fatal, getting sick can mean they miss out on significant amounts of schooling or drop out altogether. This one event can have catastrophic consequences on their development, ability to gain employment and their wellbeing throughout life.
Measles can cause visual and hearing impairment, which can mean that in areas without adequate provision for teaching kids with disabilities any child whose vision or hearing has been affected by measles will have to drop out. Vaccination against measles prevent symptoms such as loss of vision, neurological damage, middle ear infections (which can lead to hearing impairment thus affecting learning), and undernutrition.
In a rural community in South Africa, for every five to seven children vaccinated against measles by the age of one year, one additional school year was gained.
This was the case even for siblings who shared the same household and parents but were not both vaccinated against measles.
A 2019 study of around 2,000 children in Ethiopia, India, and Vietnam has shown that when kids are vaccinated against measles at ages 6–18 months they do much better on a variety of school scores.
Vaccinated children gained up to 0.3 more grades in school
India's mission to immunise every child
India implemented the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) in the 1980s to scale up the delivery of four childhood vaccines: one dose each of measles and BCG (against TB), three doses of polio vaccine and three doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine, as well as tetanus shots for pregnant women.
This had a significant effect on reducing child deaths - between 1990 and 2015, the annual deaths among children under the age of five years fell from 3.4 million to 1.2 million in India.
A study of over 110,000 people in India looked at the effect this vaccination drive had on schooling. People who as children had been included in the UIP gained up to 0.3 more grades of schooling, as compared with those who were not in the programme.
Vaccinating pregnant mothers against tetanus has a major effect on child health and schooling
Vaccinating pregnant mothers against tetanus has a major effect on child health and schooling because newborns make up a large proportion of tetanus cases – often because non-sterile equipment is used to cut the umbilical cord in childbirth.
In one study about 3% of children went from no schooling attainment to achieving 8 or more years of schooling if their mothers received the tetanus vaccination.
When mothers are vaccinated against tetanus their children on average
gain 0.25 years in school
Childhood vaccines ensure that girls stay in school, ideally until they receive their HPV vaccine - this is critical, because schools are an important access point for reaching teenage girls.
The social impact of vaccination on gender equity is significant in keeping girls in school and ensuring they complete their education. And even when boys in the family get sick, teenage girls are often expected to stay home from school and look after their younger brothers - ultimately girls are the ones most likely to see their schooling affected.
Ensuring that girls stay in school is especially important as it reduces their changes of being married off as children, which significantly impacts their health and wellbeing for life, especially as they may themselves then give birth too young. This means they are less likely to die in childbirth.
Preventing cervical cancer also has developmental effects. It perpetuates the cycle of poverty because it affects the young, working-age women who are often the head of the household, economic contributors, and caregivers, which increases the household risk of financial hardship. Aside from losing income when cervical cancer strikes, families have to sell their farms and basic property to access treatment.
GO TO NEXT
VALUE OF VACCINATION