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The widespread use of meningococcal polysaccharide conjugate vaccines has highlighted the challenge of providing protection against serogroup B disease. Over a period of 4 decades, vaccine development has focused on subcapsular protein antigens, first with outer membrane vesicle (OMV) vaccines against epidemic outbreaks, and more recently on new multicomponent vaccines designed to offer better cross-protection against the antigenically diverse strains responsible for endemic disease. Because of the low incidence of meningococcal disease, the protective efficacy of these vaccines has not been determined in clinical studies, and their licensure has been based on serological data; however, the serological assays used to predict protective coverage have limitations. As a result, evidence of the effectiveness of these vaccines against different strains and the contribution of specific antigens to protection can only be provided by epidemiological analyses following their implementation in sufficiently large populations. The recent inclusion of the four-component meningococcal serogroup B (4CMenB) vaccine, Bexsero, in the infant immunization program in the UK has provided preliminary evidence that the vaccine is effective. Ongoing surveillance will provide valuable data on its longer-term impact and antigenic coverage. Further development of protein-based vaccines against meningococcal disease is anticipated to improve antigenic coverage and adjust to changes in circulating strains. At the same time, alternative immunization strategies may be explored to improve overall vaccine effectiveness by, for example, protecting the youngest infants or providing herd protection.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Vaccine Immunol

Publication Date





Neisseria meningitidis, antigenic variation, assay standardization, complement, immunity, immunization, meningitis, meningococcus, vaccines, Humans, Immunization Programs, Meningococcal Infections, Meningococcal Vaccines, Neisseria meningitidis, Serogroup B, Vaccination