Madagascar Survey: Vaccines and their usefulness according to the Tananarivians

29/01/2019. If we really applied the adage “Prevention is better than cure”, it is certain that some diseases would have literally disappeared from the planet thanks to vaccination. Personally, I see vaccines as useful, but with every vaccination campaign, it seems, recurrent suspicions about the safety of products emerge and pollute the general opinion. So what is the real situation? Do Malagasy people really think that the repeated inoculation of young children with strange substances is dangerous to their health or, on the contrary, contributes to increasing their chances of survival?

We ran a poll on it to find out for sure, and what you are about to read illustrates the views of the people of Tananarivo on vaccines.

Between the hearsay and the reality on the ground

It seems that the people of Tananarivo are far from the widespread reluctance that one usually hears when vaccines are discussed. In fact, our survey showed that 95% of Tananarivians believe in the effectiveness of vaccines, and 93% even say they are in favour of vaccination!

Of course, we also asked them if they were vaccinated and the results are surprising. First of all, in the case of DTP (Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio), 95% of the Tananarivians surveyed are vaccinated against it. Then, 4% did not know whether they were vaccinated or not, and only 1% said they were not vaccinated against these diseases.

76% of Tananarivians then say they have been vaccinated against Hepatitis B and Pneumococcus. A minority, but not negligible 21% are those who do not know if they are or not, while 3% say they are not vaccinated at all.

It then appears that 75% of Tananarivians have been bitten against Meningitis C. 22% do not know if they are vaccinated against it or not, and 3% are unvaccinated.

General vaccination schedule
General vaccination schedule

As for the MMR (Rubella-Mumps-Mumps-Measles) series, 94% of the Tananarivians surveyed said they were vaccinated against while 4% did not know whether or not they were. 1%, on the other hand, knew very well that they were not.

Concerning the case of Tuberculosis now, the inoculation of the BCG vaccine concerned 95% of the Tananarivians. Only 4% of them are in doubt and 1% certify that they have not been vaccinated.

The survey also showed that 94% of Tananarivians are vaccinated against Typhoid. The 5% hesitate whether they have been vaccinated or not, and only 1% confirm that they have not been vaccinated.

Finally, 93% of Tananarivians are vaccinated against chickenpox. 6% are in total ignorance, while, once again, only 1% assure that they are not vaccinated against this disease at all.

Involvement of Tananarivians for their children’s vaccines

According to this interest in vaccines, the principle of “Aleo misoroka toy izay mitsabo” is strongly rooted in the consciousness of the Tananarivians. Indeed, 93% of parents have their children vaccinated!

Vaccines sting, but they protect against disease!
Vaccines sting, but they protect against disease!

When asked where they usually vaccinate their offspring, a vast majority of parents, 83%, say they mostly go to hospitals and other clinics. 33% then go to doctors, while 6% let their children be vaccinated at school.

It has also been noted that 33% of parents take advantage of vaccination campaigns and actually vaccinate their children during these events, while 64% do not. Finally, it should be noted that no one specifically waits for such campaigns to take their children to be vaccinated. In other words, vaccination campaigns or not, parents will always have their cherubs vaccinated.

The usefulness of vaccines according to the Tananarivians

Are vaccines useful? We asked this question to the 860 people we interviewed in the streets of the capital. It emerged that, against all odds, the people of Tananarivo are very much in favour of vaccines. See for yourself:

% who think it is usefulof who think it’s uselessof people without notice
Diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine94%4%2%
Influenza vaccine95%3%2%
Hepatitis B and pneumococcal vaccine93%5%2%
Meningitis C vaccine92%4%4%
Rubella, Mumps and Measles Vaccine94%4%2%
Vaccination against tuberculosis91%5%4%
Typhoid vaccine90%5%5%
Vaccin contre la varicelle87%8%5%
Some vaccines are specifically recommended in certain countries
Some vaccines are specifically recommended in certain countries

In conclusion, what can we learn from this survey on the Tananarivians’ opinion of vaccines?

“Vaccines protect everyone, get vaccinated” is so obvious that only a small minority of Tananarivians are not convinced of the effectiveness of vaccines: 5%. 5 small percent believe that vaccines are bullshit, and 7% are against vaccination.

It is surely because people are convinced and get vaccinated that the official declaration of the eradication of polio in Madagascar could be pronounced in August 2018. Yes, we have been living in a “polio-free” country since mid-2018! :).

However, it is important to remember that vaccines are not everything. The fact that Malagasy people may be vaccinated by turns is proof that the persistence of diseases such as the plague and, indeed, measles, is proof that the fight against infectious diseases also depends on other things: everything to do with hygiene, sanitation, drinking water and nutrition, not to mention the impact of pollution on health.

Dirt is the main focus of infectious diseases...
Dirt is the main focus of infectious diseases…

I would thus say that in addition to the obvious efforts (and carriers) made on vaccines and vaccination, we should also push on the fight against insalubrity in order to finally put an end to these diseases that plague our country, starting with the plague and cholera.

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