Epidemiology and Infection



Immunosurveillance and the evaluation of national immunization programmes: a population-based approach


H. E. DE MELKER a1c1 and M. A. E. CONYN-VAN SPAENDONCK a1
a1 Department of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, P.O. Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands

Abstract

Mass vaccination can change the epidemiological dynamics of infectious diseases. It may result in a limited persistence of natural and vaccine-induced immunity and a higher mean age of infection, which may lead to a greater risk of complications. The epidemiological situation should be monitored and immunosurveillance based on the assessment of specific antibodies against vaccine-preventable diseases in human serum is one of the tools. In order to estimate the immunity of the Dutch population reliably, a large-scale, population-based, collection of serum samples was established (8359 sera in a nation-wide sampling and 1589 sera from municipalities with low vaccine coverage). In contrast to collecting residual sera from laboratories, this approach gains extensive information by means of a questionnaire regarding the determinants of the immune status and the risk factors for the transmission of infectious diseases in general. The population-based approach gives a better guarantee that the data are representative than collecting sera from laboratories does.

(Accepted June 24 1998)


Correspondence:
c1 Author for correspondence.


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