Longer window without refrigeration for Meningitis vaccine

Regulatory authorities have announced that a new meningitis vaccine, MenAfiVac, can be stored without refrigeration for up to four days in what is being hailed as a significant breakthrough for Africa’s “Meningitis belt.”

Whilst such a short amount of time may seem trivial to some, one of the biggest obstacles in providing vaccination courses in Third World countries is keeping vaccines cold when transporting it from electrified cities to villages without power. Using antipolio drives as an example, the freezers, generators and fuel necessary to make ice for the shoulder bags of vaccinators is more costly than the actual vaccine.

Previous meningitis epidemics had cost countless lives in Africa, the hot hattman winds contributing to the deaths of 25,000 Africans and leaving 50,000 disabled during the worst years.

MenAfriVac, produced in India, was originally introduced in 2010 and in Chad this year, the vaccination campaign cut cases to near zero in the districts where it was used whereas other nearby districts suffered serious outbreaks.

Experts now say it is safe for four days, provided it stays below 104 degrees.

Though temperatures in Africa do exceed that, Dr Godwin Enwere, medical director for the Meningitis Vaccine Project, ensures teams will typically remove the vaccine from the coolers before sunrise and distribute the vaccine to villages before the afternoon hours when temperatures peak.