Protecting public health or commercial interests? The importance of transparency during immunization campaigns


There has been increasing interest in vaccinating populations against serogroup B meningococcus (MenB) which is now responsible for the majority of invasive meningococcal disease in developed countries. In 2014, public health authorities in Québec (Canada) launched the world’s first regional vaccination program using Bexsero® (4CMenB) to reduce the transmission of an endemic clone of MenB. The cost-effectiveness of a vaccination campaign is crucial to assessing the choice of a specific vaccine. Yet in Québec, the cost of the vaccination program has not been released to the public despite a legal obligation to disclose major government’s expenses; and this decision was justified on the grounds that the information is an industrial secret. Greater effort must be made to ensuring that transparency is a cardinal value in all population health interventions, so that citizens can hold their governments accountable for decisions that are made in the public interest.

In Ethics, Medicine and Public Health (EMPH).