Vaccinating expectant mothers against MenA

Protecting newborn infants from meningococcal A infection and meningitis

Dr Ed Clarke, Dr Idoko Olubukola, Prof Beate Kampmann, Dr Caroline Trotter, Prof Ray Borrow, Prof Sir Brian Greenwood, Dr Marie Pierre Preziosi.
Start Date
13 May 2015
MRC Unit, Banjul, The Gambia, University of Cambridge, UK, LSHTM, London, UK, PHE, Manchester, UK, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.


In 1996-1997 a devastating outbreak of Meningococcal A (MenA) meningitis occurred in the Meningitis Belt of sub-Saharan Africa.

After over 250,000 cases and more than 25,000 deaths, it was decided that this cruel disease needed to be tackled once and for all.

In 2010 MenAfriVac®, an effective and affordable MenA vaccine was developed. Since then, more than 265 million 1-29 year olds, in 19 different countries have been vaccinated.

Thanks to these mass vaccination campaigns, the cycle of MenA epidemics has been broken.

The problem we face now, is maintaining protection against MenA as new babies are born.

This project

With this challenge in mind, researchers in The Gambia are investigating whether vaccinating pregnant women with MenAfriVac® could be a safe way to protect newborn babies. Protection can be passed from mother to baby across the placenta or through breast milk - both will be investigated in this project.

Expectant mothers in The Gambia are already offered the tetanus vaccine and MenAfriVac® contains a component that is similar to the tetanus vaccine. The researchers will therefore investigate whether MenAfriVac® could be an affordable way to protect expectant mothers and their babies from MenA and tetanus with just a single vaccine.

What will this achieve?

This study will provide key data to help policy makers choose the most effective way of sustaining high levels of protection in the African meningitis belt

Since the charity was founded in 1989, we have awarded 161 research grants. The total value of our investment in vital scientific research is over £19.1 million (€24.7 million).
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Liz Rodgers
Research Projects Manager

Hi, I’m Liz and I’m MRF's Research Projects Manager.

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