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Applying a Stepwise and Coordinated Approach Towards National COVID-19 Vaccination Goals. Data Science as a Key Enabler

Published onJun 15, 2023
Applying a Stepwise and Coordinated Approach Towards National COVID-19 Vaccination Goals. Data Science as a Key Enabler

Background: Only 10.6% of the Tanzania's population was fully vaccinated as of 31st March 2022. This proportion was far less than the WHO global targets of 70% COVID-19 vaccination. To ensure increased uptake and achievement of the global targets, Tanzania introduced extended community-based campaigns conducted in stepwise approach. Phase one of the campaign targeted to fully vaccinate 30% of eligible population(18 years and above) by June 2022. Phase two and three targets to fully vaccinate  50% and 70% by September 2022 and December 2022 respectively. 

Methodology: Tanzania is leveraging data science for a predictive utilization-focused monitoring, evaluation and adaptive learning(MEAL) approach to address the unique challenges in providing community-based COVID-19 vaccination services such as shortage of vaccines, resource constraints, sociocultural factors, dynamic population movements, and geographic barriers . Our methodology involves collecting daily performance data  for a minimum  set of data elements (vaccination by gender, type,dose, and location)  jointly agreed by stakeholders as of high importance to the community based vaccination efforts. The Immunization and Vaccines Development (IVD) program,  in partnership with Afya Intelligence then conducts rigorous data analysis to generate foresights on how the program and regions must adapt and adjust to fit unique contexts. Data is then disseminated through a facilitated process in weekly vaccine pillar meetings, where partners discuss  the findings to inform the modifications of the vaccination strategies. This data is also made available to implementers through a chatbot embedded in WhatsApp. 

Results: This unique MEAL approach has helped inform motivation, supervision and support for low performing regions contributing to adaptable community based vaccination campaigns. As of 31st July 2022, following 12 weeks of implementation, 50% of the regions had reached the goal of phase 1 (30% of population above 18 fully vaccinated). Phase 2 data is still being collected and analyzed,  it will be ready for sharing in November.                                                                                                              

Conclusion: Leveraging data science for predictive and focused MEAL is particularly relevant and effective to adapt COVID-19 vaccination efforts and helps to build responsive and resilient vaccination programs. Stakeholders have benefited from weekly adaptations suggested  to ensure the set stepwise goals are reached. 

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