Meningococcal vaccines and herd immunity: lessons learned from serogroup C conjugate vaccination programs.
Trotter CL., Maiden MCJ.
Effective vaccines provide direct protection to immunized individuals, but may also provide benefits to unvaccinated individuals by reducing transmission and thereby lowering the risk of infection. Such herd immunity effects have been demonstrated following the introduction of meningococcal serogroup C conjugate (MCC) vaccines, with reductions in disease attack rates in unimmunized individuals and significantly lower serogroup C carriage attributable to the vaccine introduction. In the UK, targeting teenagers for immunization was crucial in maximizing indirect effects, as most meningococcal transmission occurs in this age group. Questions remain regarding the duration of herd protection and the most appropriate long-term immunization strategies. The magnitude of the herd effects following MCC vaccination was largely unanticipated, and has important consequences for the design and evaluation of new meningococcal vaccines.