Measles is a highly transmissible disease that requires high levels of vaccination coverage for control and elimination. Areas that are unable to achieve and maintain high coverage levels are at risk for measles outbreaks resulting in increased morbidity and mortality. Public health emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, pose a threat to the functioning of health systems by disrupting immunization services which can derail measles vaccination efforts. Efforts to bridge coverage gaps in immunization include the rapid return to fully functioning services as well as deploying supplementary immunization activities (SIAs), which are additional vaccination campaigns intended to catch-up children who have missed routine services. However, SIAs, which to date tend to be national efforts, can be difficult to mobilize quickly, resource-intensive, and even more challenging to deploy during a public health crisis. By mapping expected burden of measles, more effective SIAs that are setting-specific and resource-efficient can be planned and mobilized. Using a spatial transmission model of measles dynamics, we projected and estimated the expected burden of national and local measles outbreaks in Zambia with the current COVID-19 pandemic as a framework to inform disruptions to routine vaccination. We characterize the impact of disruptions to routine immunization services on measles incidence, map expected case burden, and explore SIA strategies to mitigate measles outbreaks. We find that disruptions lasting six months or longer as well as having low MCV1 coverage prior to disruptions resulted in an observable increase of measles cases across provinces. Targeting provinces at higher risk of measles outbreaks for SIAs is an effective strategy to curb measles virus incidence following disruptions to routine immunization services.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases
- Immunization campaigns