In the JournalsPerspective

Meningococcal B outbreak response reveals higher frequency of vaccine-related health events

Data from research conducted during an outbreak of serogroup B meningococcal disease on a university campus revealed that vaccine-related health events occurred more often than previously reported, according to recent data in Vaccine.

“Through collaboration with public health, university representatives, and academic researchers, an electronic surveillance program to detect health events following immunization with a new meningococcal vaccine was successfully implemented during an outbreak,” Joanne Langley, MD, MSc, of the departments of pediatrics and community health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and colleagues wrote. “This surveillance method can assist public health to monitor unexpected health events or emerging vaccine concerns during the implementation of emergency vaccine programs, and allow quick response should any events be noted.”

The researchers conducted their study alongside an emergency vaccination campaign at a university in Canada during an outbreak of serogroup B meningococcal disease. Study participants included 2,967 students who received at least one dose of Bexsero (4CMenB, Novartis/GlaxoSmithKline Inc.). The researchers administered an online survey to study participants that gathered information related to the number of doses received, demographics, and any new or worsening health problems reported.

Study results showed that 84.7% of students received at least one dose of 4CMenB and 70% received the second dose. The researchers found that health events were reported by 30% of recipients after the first dose and 30.3% after the second dose, compared with 15.9% among unvaccinated controls. Health events inhibited normal activities in 74.7% of those reporting events after the first dose and 62.6% of those reporting events after the second dose. Furthermore, health events resulted in visits to health care professionals in 12.8% after dose one and 14.4% after dose two.

The most commonly reported health events were injection site reactions and non-specific systemic complaints. The researchers noted that there were no hospitalizations and all health events reported during surveillance were consistent with previously reported adverse events.

“Our research network was able to rapidly implement a survey because the preparatory work to run it had already been done, and the CIRN network facilitated rapid collaboration of persons with the necessary expertise,” Langley and colleagues wrote. “Preparatory work for research studies must be done ahead of emergent infectious disease issues in order for them to be feasibly conducted at the time of a public health crisis.” —by David Costill

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

Data from research conducted during an outbreak of serogroup B meningococcal disease on a university campus revealed that vaccine-related health events occurred more often than previously reported, according to recent data in Vaccine.

“Through collaboration with public health, university representatives, and academic researchers, an electronic surveillance program to detect health events following immunization with a new meningococcal vaccine was successfully implemented during an outbreak,” Joanne Langley, MD, MSc, of the departments of pediatrics and community health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and colleagues wrote. “This surveillance method can assist public health to monitor unexpected health events or emerging vaccine concerns during the implementation of emergency vaccine programs, and allow quick response should any events be noted.”

The researchers conducted their study alongside an emergency vaccination campaign at a university in Canada during an outbreak of serogroup B meningococcal disease. Study participants included 2,967 students who received at least one dose of Bexsero (4CMenB, Novartis/GlaxoSmithKline Inc.). The researchers administered an online survey to study participants that gathered information related to the number of doses received, demographics, and any new or worsening health problems reported.

Study results showed that 84.7% of students received at least one dose of 4CMenB and 70% received the second dose. The researchers found that health events were reported by 30% of recipients after the first dose and 30.3% after the second dose, compared with 15.9% among unvaccinated controls. Health events inhibited normal activities in 74.7% of those reporting events after the first dose and 62.6% of those reporting events after the second dose. Furthermore, health events resulted in visits to health care professionals in 12.8% after dose one and 14.4% after dose two.

The most commonly reported health events were injection site reactions and non-specific systemic complaints. The researchers noted that there were no hospitalizations and all health events reported during surveillance were consistent with previously reported adverse events.

“Our research network was able to rapidly implement a survey because the preparatory work to run it had already been done, and the CIRN network facilitated rapid collaboration of persons with the necessary expertise,” Langley and colleagues wrote. “Preparatory work for research studies must be done ahead of emergent infectious disease issues in order for them to be feasibly conducted at the time of a public health crisis.” —by David Costill

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

    Perspective
    Rodrigo Hasbun

    Rodrigo Hasbun

    This is a good study in the sense that, in an outbreak setting, it shows that we were able to have emergency vaccination implemented quickly, and able to track side effects, as least as much as was possible with an online survey. While the survey gives an idea of the side effects in an outbreak setting, there are still limitations to the study: obviously, not everyone responded to the survey, the survey was anonymous, and the survey was conducted after the vaccine was already given. Additionally, the survey invitation was sent a week after the vaccines were already administered, so there could be some recall bias. 

    The most important aspect of this study is the speed at which we were able to implement vaccination during an outbreak setting. The two cases of invasive meningococcal disease occurred on February 1st and February 11th; within two days the meningococcal B vaccine program was announced and less than a week later, on February 18th, vaccinations were initiated.

    This is worthwhile information for providers to have in order to spread awareness to their patients that while there are outbreaks of meningococcal disease, we now have vaccines to try to arrest those outbreaks.

    • Rodrigo Hasbun, MD
    • Infectious disease physician McGovern Medical School The University of Texas Health Science Center Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center

    Disclosures: Hasbun reported no relevant financial disclosures.