Introduction of the Haemophilus influenzae type b (HIB) Vaccine

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The Russian Ministry of Health has now added the Hib vaccine to the national vaccination schedule for children, thereby assuming financial and managerial responsibility for sustaining the Hib vaccination programs initiated and financed by the Rostropovich-Vishnevskaya Foundation from 2007 – 2010.

  • A study conducted by the Foundation in 2007 showed a heavy burden of Hib meningitis in children at study sites in Western Russia and the Russian Far East.
  • Meningitis and other serious diseases caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) can lead to brain damage or death.
  • At the request of the Chief Sanitary Physician of RF, Dr. Gennady Onischenko, the Foundation supported a pilot (Hib) vaccination programs at three sites: The Yaroslavl and Murmansk regions in European Russia, and Vladivostok in the Russian Far East.
  • The programs were financed by grants from the French energy company Total and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The overarching goal was to support the Russian Ministry of Health and Social Development in evaluating the inclusion of the Hib conjugate vaccine in the National Immunization Calendar, which would protect all children in Russia from the ravages of Hib infection.

Following the Foundation’s highly successful hepatitis B vaccination initiative for adolescents the Foundation agreed to a request from Dr. G. G. Onischenko, Russia’s Chief State Sanitary Physician, to conduct a pilot vaccination program for the prevention of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) infection in infants Dr. Onischenko’s request was prompted by the findings of the Foundation’s study of the epidemiology of Hib infection at sites throughout the country. The data showed high rates of attack of meningitis caused by Hib in such diverse locations as Murmansk, Tula, Ulan-Ude, Vladivostok, and Yaroslavl.The epidemiological study, a collaboration with the Central Institute of Epidemiology in Moscow, followed the guidelines of WHO’s “Generic Protocol for Population-Based Surveillance of Haemophilus influenzae type b.”

The first pilot vaccination programs against Hib were launched in the Murmansk region and the city of Yaroslavl in 2007 with a grant from the French energy company Total. The programs target all children under the age of 2 years, in accordance with WHO guidelines. In the fall of 2008, the program was extended from the city of Yaroslavl to the entire Yaroslavl region. By completion of the 3rd year of pilot vaccination program in 2010, almost 54,000 children in both regions had been protected against Hib, with vaccination coverage rates of over 90%. The Foundation also supplied 256 refrigerators and 716 thermal containers to ensure the proper storage and distribution of the vaccine. In addition the Foundation provided 40 computers and 50 software sets to modernize the record-keeping of vaccinations.

In August 2008, thanks to support from USAID, the city of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East was added as a third site for a pilot vaccination program. The success of this vaccination program is apparent: by the end of 2010, 17,000 children representing 93% of the targeted population have been vaccinated. In addition 230 refrigerators and 300 thermal containers have been delivered to strengthen the cold chain, and 45 computers and software sets have been provided to support the electronic collection and analysis of vaccination data.

As with all programs, the Foundation does not create parallel structures to implement its programs. Thus, all vaccinations were performed by local health care workers, and all vaccines were administered at the child’s standard location of health care delivery (polyclinics and primary care stations). The RVF worked collaboratively with officials from the federal Ministry of Health and Social Development in Moscow as well as regional health authorities and government representatives to educate health care workers about the urgent medical need for and safety of the vaccine. This helped to ensure the complete sustainability of the program. The Hib vaccine was added to the national vaccination calendar in the end of 2010 and thus vaccination is fully financed by the MOH starting January 2011.