At the end of 2011, we celebrated the launch of MenAfriVac™ in a new group of countries and the successful completion of vaccine introduction in the original three.
As planned, in December 2011, Cameroon, Chad, and Nigeria became the fourth, fifth, and sixth countries in the African meningitis belt to introduce the new meningitis vaccine. All told, more than 20 million were protected: 15 million in Nigeria, 4 million in Cameroon, and 1.8 million in Chad.
Mali and Niger, both part of the historic launch of the vaccine in December 2010, successfully completed their phased approach to introduction. Both countries achieved coverage rates higher than 90 percent nationwide in the target age group (1 to 29 years old, the age of greatest risk). With help from Doctors Without Borders, Mali alone vaccinated more than 6 million people who did not receive the vaccine’s protection during the first round.
Results are highly promising: As 2011 came to an end, not a single case of group A meningococcal meningitis has been reported among the almost 20 million people who were vaccinated during the 2010 launch. All countries will continue to monitor and document the vaccine’s effectiveness.
What’s next? Cameroon, Chad, and Nigeria will continue their own phased introductions—hopefully, with equally impressive coverage rates—in 2012 and 2013. The three countries will conduct in-depth campaign evaluations in early 2012 to fine-tune their immunization strategies and prepare for the next phase of work.