A new Group A meningococcal (Men A) conjugate vaccine, MenAfriVac™, was prequalified by the World Health Organization (WHO) in June 2010. Because Burkina Faso has repeatedly suffered meningitis epidemics due to Group A Neisseria meningitidis special efforts were made to conduct a country-wide campaign with the new vaccine in late 2010 and before the onset of the next epidemic meningococcal disease season beginning in January 2011. In the ensuing five months (July–November 2010) the following challenges were successfully managed: (1) doing a large safety study and registering the new vaccine in Burkina Faso; (2) developing a comprehensive communication plan; (3) strengthening the surveillance system with particular attention to improving the capacity for real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of spinal fluid specimens; (4) improving cold chain capacity and waste disposal; (5) developing and funding a sound campaign strategy; and (6) ensuring effective collaboration across all partners. Each of these issues required specific strategies that were managed through a WHO-led consortium that included all major partners (Ministry of Health/Burkina Faso, Serum Institute of India Ltd., UNICEF, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, Meningitis Vaccine Project, CDC/Atlanta, and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health/Oslo). Biweekly teleconferences that were led by WHO ensured that problems were identified in a timely fashion. The new meningococcal A conjugate vaccine was introduced on December 6, 2010, in a national ceremony led by His Excellency Blaise Compaore, the President of Burkina Faso. The ensuing 10-day national campaign was hugely successful, and over 11.4 million Burkinabes between the ages of 1 and 29 years (100% of target population) were vaccinated. African national immunization programs are capable of achieving very high coverage for a vaccine desired by the public, introduced in a well-organized campaign, and supported at the highest political level. The Burkina Faso success augurs well for further rollout of the Men A conjugate vaccine in meningitis belt countries.
Djingarey, M.; Barry, R.; Bonkoungou, M.; Tiendrebeogo, S.; Sebgo, R.; Kandolo, D.; Lingani, C.; Preziosi, M.P.; Zuber, P.L.F.; Perea, W.; Hugonnet, S.; Dellepiane de Rey Tolve, N.; Tevi-Benissan, C.; Clark, T.A.; Mayer, L.W.; Novak, R.; Messonier, N.E.; Berlier, M.; Toboe, D.; Nshimirimana, D.; Mihigo, R.; Aguado, T.; Diomande, F.; Kristiansen, P.A.; Caugant, A.; LaForce, F.M. Effectively introducing a new meningococcal A conjugate vaccine in Africa: The Burkina Faso experience. Vaccine (2012) 30 (Supplement 2) B40-B45. [DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.12.073]