Background: Frequent supplemental immunization activities (SIAs) with the oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) represent the primary strategy to interrupt poliovirus transmission in the last endemic areas.
Materials and methods: Using a differential-equation based poliovirus transmission model tailored to high-risk areas in Nigeria, we perform one-way and multi-way sensitivity analyses to demonstrate the impact of different assumptions about routine immunization (RI) and the frequency and quality of SIAs on population immunity to transmission and persistence or emergence of circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPVs) after OPV cessation.
Results: More trivalent OPV use remains critical to avoid serotype 2 cVDPVs. RI schedules with or without inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) could significantly improve population immunity if coverage increases well above current levels in under-vaccinated subpopulations. Similarly, the impact of SIAs on overall population immunity and cVDPV risks depends on their ability to reach under-vaccinated groups (i.e., SIA quality). Lower SIA coverage in the under-vaccinated subpopulation results in a higher frequency of SIAs needed to maintain high enough population immunity to avoid cVDPVs after OPV cessation.
Conclusions: National immunization program managers in northwest Nigeria should recognize the benefits of increasing RI and SIA quality. Sufficiently improving RI coverage and improving SIA quality will reduce the frequency of SIAs required to stop and prevent future poliovirus transmission. Better information about the incremental costs to identify and reach under-vaccinated children would help determine the optimal balance between spending to increase SIA and RI quality and spending to increase SIA frequency.