[Experience with the expanded WHO program on immunization against tetanus] Opyt rasshirennoi programmy VOZ po immunizatsii protiv stolbniaka.
According to (WHO) statistics, over 1 million infants in the developing countries die each year from tetanus. The estimated annual occurrence of tetanus in the 3rd World exceeds 2.5 million cases, including approximately 1.3 million newborn infants. In 1974, WHO began an expanded program for the systematic immunization of infants against tetanus and certain other diseases. The program uses 2 approaches for preventing tetanus: 1) immunization of infants under 1 year of age with the AKDS vaccine; and 2) immunization of pregnant women or, if possible, all women, with tetanus anatoxin. The 2nd approach is more effective, especially when 2 doses of tetanus anatoxin are administered within a minimum interval of 4 weeks. The anatoxin has no harmful effects on the fetus and can be used during any stage of pregnancy. The program strives to reduce infant mortality caused by tetanus to less than 1 case in 1000 by 1990, and to 0 by 2000. To attain these goals, systematic immunization should be combined with drastic improvements in delivery techniques and hygiene in developing countries. Specialized surveys indicate that initial steps toward implementation of the program resulted in a significant reduction of infant mortality caused by tetanus. Experience with the expanded WHO program shows that elimination of tetanus in infants is a realistic and attainable goal.