Original report posted on November 27, 2012.Report revised in June 2013 to remove photo.
The MenAfriVac® vaccine against deadly meningococcal A meningitis will become the first vaccine in Africa approved to be transported and stored for up to four days without refrigeration or icepacks, allowing health workers to reach more people in remote areas of the continent.
After a rigorous regulatory review, authorities found the vaccine to be stable even when exposed to high temperatures. That means the vaccine can be kept in a “controlled temperature chain,” rather than the traditional “cold chain,” for up to four days at temperatures up to 104°F.
The decision is expected to help country governments save money on expensive cold chain equipment and systems used to deliver vaccines to rural areas. And those savings could translate into more lives saved.
The new guideline, announced in November, also represents a potential breakthrough for immunization programs in low-resource countries, building momentum for using the same controlled temperature chain concept with other vaccines.
Benin recently became the tenth country to launch a MenAfriVac® vaccination campaign and the first to pilot the use of the vaccine in a controlled temperature chain based on the new regulatory guidelines. As part of that pilot, 11-year-old Mikael from northern Benin became the first person ever to receive a vaccine distributed through a controlled temperature chain. The protection he now has against meningitis will help ensure he can pursue his dream of becoming a doctor.
The Meningitis Vaccine Project—a partnership between PATH and the World Health Organization—expects that by the end of 2012, more than 100 million people in Africa’s meningitis belt will have received the lifesaving vaccine.
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