Issues and considerations in the use of serologic biomarkers for classifying vaccination history in household surveys


Accurate estimates of vaccination coverage are crucial for assessing routine immunization program performance. Community based household surveys are frequently used to assess coverage within a country. In household surveys to assess routine immunization coverage, a child's vaccination history is classified on the basis of observation of the immunization card, parental recall of receipt of vaccination, or both; each of these methods has been shown to commonly be inaccurate. The use of serologic data as a biomarker of vaccination history is a potential additional approach to improve accuracy in classifying vaccination history. However, potential challenges, including the accuracy of serologic methods in classifying vaccination history, varying vaccine types and dosing schedules, and logistical and financial implications must be considered. We provide historic and scientific context for the potential use of serologic data to assess vaccination history and discuss in detail key areas of importance for consideration in the context of using serologic data for classifying vaccination history in household surveys. Further studies are needed to directly evaluate the performance of serologic data compared with use of immunization cards or parental recall for classification of vaccination history in household surveys, as well assess the impact of age at the time of sample collection on serologic titers, the predictive value of serology to identify a fully vaccinated child for multi-dose vaccines, and the cost impact and logistical issues on outcomes associated with different types of biological samples for serologic testing.