Publications & Reports

Impact of a mass vaccination campaign against a meningitis epidemic in a refugee camp.

Haelterman E, Boelaert M, Suetens C, Blok L, Henkens M, Toole MJ
Medecins Sans Frontieres Belgium, Brussels, Belgium.


Serogroup A meningococcus epidemics occurred in refugee populations in Zaire in August 1994.

The paper analyses the public health impact of a mass vaccination campaign implemented in a large refugee camp.

We compared meningitis incidence rates from 2 similar camps.

In Kibumba camp, vaccination was implemented early in the course of the epidemic whilst in the control camp (Katale), vaccination was delayed.

At a threshold of 15 cases per 100 000 population per week an immunization campaign was implemented. Attack rates were 94 and 134 per 100,000 in Kibumba and Katale respectively over 2 months.

In Kibumba, one week after crossing the threshold, 121,588 doses of vaccine were administered covering 76% of all refugees. Vaccination may have prevented 68 cases (30% of the expected cases).

Despite its rapid institution and the high coverage achieved, the vaccination campaign had a limited impact on morbidity due to meningitis.

In the early phase in refugee camps, the relative priorities of meningitis vaccination and case management need to be better defined.


  • Journal: Tropical Medicine & International Health
  • Published: 01/06/1996
  • Volume: 1
  • Issue: 3
  • Pagination: 385-392


Health Issue