Assessing the impact of preventive mass vaccination campaigns on yellow fever outbreaks in Africa : a population-level self-controlled case-series study
The Eliminate Yellow fever Epidemics (EYE) strategy was launched in 2017 in response to the resurgence of yellow fever in Africa and the Americas. The strategy relies on several vaccination activities, including preventive mass vaccination campaigns (PMVCs). However, by how much PMVCs decrease the risk of outbreak to occur has not yet been quantified. Methods: We used the self-controlled case series (SCCS) method to assess the association between the occurrence of yellow fever outbreaks and the
... r outbreaks and the implementation of PMVCs at the province level in the African endemic region. As all time-invariant confounders are implicitly controlled for, the SCCS method is an alternative to classical cohort or case-control study designs when the risk of residual confounding is high. The location and dates of outbreaks were identified from international epidemiological records, and information on PMVCs was provided by coordinators of vaccination activities and international funders. The study sample consisted of provinces that were both affected by an outbreak and targeted for a PMVC between 2005 and 2018. We compared the relative incidence of outbreaks before and after the implementation of a PMVC. The sensitivity of our estimates to a range of assumptions was explored, and the results of the SCCS method were compared to those obtained through a retrospective cohort study design. We further derived the number of yellow fever outbreaks that have been prevented by PMVCs. Results: The study sample consisted of 33 African provinces. Among these, outbreaks occurred during the pre-PMVC period in 26 (78.8%) provinces versus 7 (21.2%) occurring in the post-PMVC period. This corresponded to a significantly reduced incidence rate ratio of 0.14 (95% Confidence interval 0.06 to 0.34) for the post-PMVC versus pre-PMVC period. This estimate was robust across a range of sensitivity analyses, while the results of the cohort-style analyses were highly sensitive to the choice of covariates included in the model. Based on the SCCS results, we estimated that PMVCs have reduced the number of outbreaks by 34% (22% to 45%) in Africa over the study period. Conclusion: Our estimates provide new empirical evidence of the high preventive impact of PMVCs on yellow fever outbreaks. This study illustrates that the SCCS method can be advantageously applied at the population level in order to evaluate a public health intervention.