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Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1999 Dec;18(12):1051-9.

Evaluation of meningococcal meningitis vaccination strategies for the meningitis belt in Africa.

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  • 1Children's Vaccine Initiative, Geneva, Switzerland.



Although the meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine has contributed to the control of Group A meningitis in the "meningitis belt" of Africa, recurrent large outbreaks have led to questions regarding vaccination strategy. We evaluated current and hypothetical vaccination strategies for the region.


A model was formulated to analyze the effectiveness and costs of vaccine campaigns in response to outbreaks based on 7 years of weekly incidence data from Burkina Faso. Additional models analyzed the potential impact and costs of either a 1- or 4-dose routine scheduled delivery of meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine based on data reported to the World Health Organization from 16 countries during 1948 through 1996. Vaccine efficacy, vaccination coverage and economic data from literature reviews provided model assumptions.


For Burkina Faso neither 1- nor 4-dose vaccination schedules would prevent >30% of meningitis cases compared with the 42% prevented through an outbreak response program of vaccinating districts, which reach an incidence of 15 per 100000 persons for 2 weeks. For the entire meningitis belt, routine coverage with the 1- or 4-dose schedule meningococcal vaccine would require 4.9 and 19.6 million doses annually, respectively, for an annual net cost of $4.4 to $12.3 million and prevent an average 10300 to 12600 cases (23 to 28%), assuming a long term vaccine efficacy of 50%. In addition an initial "catch-up" campaign costing up to $72 million to vaccinate the population from 1 to 30 years of age would be required before achieving that level of effectiveness.


Given the relatively poor routine vaccination coverage in this region, current strategies of vaccination campaigns that achieve higher coverage would generally be more effective and less costly than the modeled routine scheduled programs, assuming that campaigns can be rapidly implemented. Until a better vaccine is available, countries in this region would be more efficient in improving the response times to outbreaks, perhaps through improved surveillance, and in bolstering existing vaccination infrastructures rather than embarking on strategies of questionable effectiveness.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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