Rubella vaccine introduction in the South African public vaccination schedule: Mathematical modelling for decision making
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Background: age structured mathematical models have been used to evaluate the impact of rubella-containing vaccine (RCV) introduction into existing measles vaccination programs in several countries. South Africa has a well-established measles vaccination program and is considering RCV introduction. This study aimed to provide a comparison of different scenarios and their relative costs within the context of congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) reduction or elimination. Methods: we used a previously published age-structured deterministic discrete time rubella transmission model. We obtained estimates of vaccine costs from the South African medicines price registry and the World Health Organization. We simulated RCV introduction and extracted estimates of rubella incidence, CRS incidence and effective reproductive number over 30 years. Results: compared to scenarios without mass campaigns, scenarios including mass campaigns resulted in more rapid elimination of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). Routine vaccination at 12 months of age coupled with vaccination of nine-year-old children was associated with the lowest RCV cost per CRS case averted for a similar percentage CRS reduction. Conclusion: At 80% RCV coverage, all vaccine introduction scenarios would achieve rubella and CRS elimination in South Africa. Any RCV introduction strategy should consider a combination of routine vaccination in the primary immunization series and additional vaccination of older children.
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