Article Text

‘Learn from the lessons and don’t forget them’: identifying transferable lessons for COVID-19 from meningitis A, yellow fever and Ebola virus disease vaccination campaigns
  1. Julie Collins1,
  2. Rosie Westerveld2,
  3. Kate A Nelson2,
  4. Hana Rohan1,
  5. Hilary Bower1,
  6. Siobhan Lazenby3,
  7. Gloria Ikilezi3,
  8. Rebecca Bartlein3,
  9. Daniel G Bausch1,
  10. David S Kennedy1
  1. 1UK Public Health Rapid Support Team, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine/Public Health England, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  3. 3Gates Ventures, Kirkland, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to Julie Collins; julie.collins{at}


Introduction COVID-19 vaccines are now being distributed to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), with global urgency surrounding national vaccination plans. LMICs have significant experience implementing vaccination campaigns to respond to epidemic threats but are often hindered by chronic health system challenges. We sought to identify transferable lessons for COVID-19 vaccination from the rollout of three vaccines that targeted adult groups in Africa and South America: MenAfriVac (meningitis A); 17D (yellow fever) and rVSV-ZEBOV (Ebola virus disease).

Methods We conducted a rapid literature review and 24 semi-structured interviews with technical experts who had direct implementation experience with the selected vaccines in Africa and South America. We identified barriers, enablers, and key lessons from the literature and from participants’ experiences. Interview data were analysed thematically according to seven implementation domains.

Results Participants highlighted multiple components of vaccination campaigns that are instrumental for achieving high coverage. Community engagement is an essential and effective tool, requiring dedicated time, funding and workforce. Involving local health workers is a key enabler, as is collaborating with community leaders to map social groups and tailor vaccination strategies to their needs. Vaccination team recruitment and training strategies need to be enhanced to support vaccination campaigns. Although recognised as challenging, integrating vaccination campaigns with other routine health services can be highly beneficial if well planned and coordinated across health programmes and with communities.

Conclusion As supplies of COVID-19 vaccines become available to LMICs, countries need to prepare to efficiently roll out the vaccine, encourage uptake among eligible groups and respond to potential community concerns. Lessons from the implementation of these three vaccines that targeted adults in LMICs can be used to inform best practice for COVID-19 and other epidemic vaccination campaigns.

  • COVID-19
  • immunisation
  • control strategies
  • qualitative study

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplemental information.

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Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplemental information.

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  • Handling editor Seye Abimbola

  • Contributors All authors provided input into the conceptualisation of the study and its design. The interviews and qualitative analysis were conducted by JC and RW with support from DK. The literature review was conducted by DK with support from KAN and JC. The manuscript was prepared by JC and DK. All authors provided input into the manuscript and are guarantors of the study.

  • Funding This research was funded by UK Aid from the Department of Health and Social Care (–2, Grant No. IS-RRT-1015-001) via the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team Research Programme. The UK Public Health Rapid Support Team is funded by UK Aid from the Department of Health and Social Care and is jointly run by Public Health England and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

  • Disclaimer The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the Department of Health and Social Care.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.