Muhamed-Kheir Taha, Federico Martinon-Torres, Ralph Köllges, Paolo Bonanni, Marco Aurelio Palazzi Safadi, Robert Booy, Vinny Smith, Stéphanie Garcia, Rafik Bekkat-Berkani, Véronique Abitbol

Introduction: Social deprivation is associated with poorer healthcare access. Vaccination is among the most effective public health interventions and achieving equity in vaccination access is vitally important. However, vaccines are often reimbursed by public funds only when recommended in national immunization programs (NIPs), which can increase inequity between high and low socioeconomic groups. Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) is a serious vaccination-preventable disease. This review focuses on vaccination strategies against IMD designed to reduce inequity.

Areas covered: We reviewed meningococcal epidemiology and current vaccination recommendations worldwide. We also reviewed studies demonstrating an association between social deprivation and risk of meningococcal disease, as well as studies demonstrating an impact of social deprivation on uptake of meningococcal vaccines. We discuss factors influencing inclusion of meningococcal vaccines in NIPs.

Expert opinion: Incorporating meningococcal vaccines in NIPs is necessary to reduce inequity, but insufficient alone. Inclusion provides clear guidance to healthcare professionals and helps to ensure that vaccines are offered universally to all target groups. Beyond NIPs, cost of vaccination should be reimbursed especially for disadvantaged individuals. These approaches should help to achieve optimal protection against IMD, by increasing access and immunization rates, eventually reducing social inequities, and helping to protect those at greatest risk.

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