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Measles prevention -- how to pull the trigger for vaccination campaigns?

October 11, 2016

Measles is an extremely contagious disease that can cause serious health outcomes in children. Routine vaccination has greatly reduced measles deaths in recent years, but very high vaccination coverage is needed in all countries to prevent disease outbreaks. In a Research Article in PLOS Medicine, Justin Lessler of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA and colleagues describe a modeling study aimed at assessing the potential benefits of using supplementary vaccination campaigns triggered by measles outbreaks or by serological surveys of population immunity as part of a measles control strategy.

By carrying out simulations based on four scenarios capturing different levels of measles incidence, Lessler and colleagues estimate that supplemental vaccination campaigns triggered by disease outbreaks could prevent 28,613 cases (95% confidence interval [CI] 25,722-31,505) over 15 y in high-incidence settings, and 599 cases (95% CI 464-735) in the lowest-incidence setting examined. Vaccination campaigns prompted by serological surveys, in contrast, could prevent 89,173 cases (95% CI 86,768-91,577) and 744 (95% CI 612-876) cases in the highest- and lowest-incidence settings, respectively, but would need to occur annually in high-incidence settings.

This work was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Award #705580-3) (JL, CJEM, and BTG); the RAPIDD program of the Science & Technology Directorate, Department of Homeland Security and the NIH Fogarty International Center (JL, CJEM, and BTG), and a grant from the Science and Technology Directorate, Department of Homeland Security (HSHQDC-12 C-00058) (BTG). BTG is a member of the leadership team for the RAPIDD program at the Fogarty International Center. This program is funded by the Science & Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security, which had no role in the design, data collection, analysis, decision to publish or preparation of this manuscript.

Competing Interests:

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Lessler J, Metcalf CJE, Cutts FT, Grenfell BT (2016) Impact on Epidemic Measles of Vaccination Campaigns Triggered by Disease Outbreaks or Serosurveys: A Modeling Study. PLoS Med 13(10): e1002144. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002144

Author Affiliations:

Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America
Office of Population Research, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America
Fogarty International Center, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom



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