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Dramatic decline of serogroup C meningococcal disease incidence in Catalonia (Spain) 24 months after a mass vaccination programme of children and young people


STUDY OBJECTIVES The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a mass vaccination programme carried out in Catalonia (Spain) in the last quarter of 1997 in response to an upsurge of serogroup C meningococcal disease (SCMD).

DESIGN Vaccination coverage in the 18 month to 19 years age group was investigated by means of a specific vaccination register. Vaccination effectiveness was calculated using the prospective cohort method. Cases of SCMD were identified on the basis of compulsory reporting and microbiological notification by hospital laboratories. Vaccination histories were investigated in all cases. Unadjusted and age adjusted vaccination effectiveness referred to the time of vaccination and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated at 6, 12, 18 and 24 months of follow up.

SETTING All population aged 18 months to 19 years of Catalonia.

MAIN RESULTS A total of seven cases of SCMD were detected at six months of follow up (one in the vaccinated cohort), 12 cases at 12 months (one in the vaccinated cohort), 19 cases at 18 months (two in the vaccinated cohort) and 24 at 24 months (two in the vaccinated cohort). The age adjusted effectiveness was 84% (95%CI 30, 97) at six months, 92% (95%CI 63, 98) at 12 months, 92% (95% CI 71, 98) at 18 months and 94% (95%CI 78, 98) at 24 months. In the target population, cases have been reduced by more than two thirds (68%) two years after the vaccination programme. In the total population the reduction was 43%.

CONCLUSION Vaccination effectiveness has been high in Catalonia, with a dramatic reduction in disease incidence in the vaccinated cohort accompanied by a relevant reduction in the overall population. Given that vaccination coverage was only 54.6%, it may be supposed that this vaccination effectiveness is attributable, in part, to the herd immunity conferred by the vaccine.

  • serogroup C
  • meningococcal disease
  • vaccination
  • mass campaign

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  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.