Knowledge synthesis of benefits and adverse effects of measles vaccination: the Lasbela balance sheet

BMC Int Health Hum Rights. 2009 Oct 14;9 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S6. doi: 10.1186/1472-698X-9-S1-S6.


Background: In preparation for a cluster-randomized controlled trial of a community intervention to increase the demand for measles vaccination in Lasbela district of Pakistan, a balance sheet summarized published evidence on benefits and possible adverse effects of measles vaccination.

Methods: The balance sheet listed: 1) major health conditions associated with measles; 2) the risk among the unvaccinated who contract measles; 3) the risk among the vaccinated; 4) the risk difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated; and 5) the likely net gain from vaccination for each condition.

Results: Two models revealed very different projections of net gain from measles vaccine. A Lasbela-specific combination of low period prevalence of measles among the unvaccinated, medium vaccination coverage and low vaccine efficacy rate, as revealed by the baseline survey, resulted in less-than-expected gains attributable to vaccination. Modelled on estimates where the vaccine had greater efficacy, the gains from vaccination would be more substantial.

Conclusion: Specific local conditions probably explain the low rates among the unvaccinated while the high vaccine failure rate is likely due to weaknesses in the vaccination delivery system. Community perception of these realities may have had some role in household decisions about whether to vaccinate, although the major discouraging factor was inadequate access. The balance sheet may be useful as a communication tool in other circumstances, applied to up-to-date local evidence.