Novartis releases initial results for meningitis B vaccination campaign in Quebec

Novartis recently announced the initial results of a large-scale vaccination campaign using Bexsero to protect against meningitis B in Quebec's Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.

The program is the first of its kind in the world, and has reached 81 percent of its target population within the first three months. More than 45,000 infants, young children and adolescents ages two months to 20-years-old have been vaccinated with Bexsero, which is approved in 34 countries, according to a Novartis press release.

"A high level of uptake through a public vaccination program is critical to achieving community-wide protection against a devastating and unpredictable disease like meningitis B," Andrin Oswald, the division head of Novartis Vaccines, said. "Thanks to the decisive leadership and urgency with which the public health officials in Québec have acted, lives will likely be saved. We are committed to continuing to work with health authorities globally to ensure public access to Bexsero."

Meningitis is the inflammation of the brain and spine's protective membranes and can cause severe brain damage and death in 50 percent of cases if left untreated, according to the World Health Organization.

Common symptoms of meningitis include stiff neck, high fever, headaches, vomiting and sensitivity to light. The condition is caused by several different bacteria and viruses.