The World Health Organization is introducing a new meningitis vaccine in the West African nation of Burkina Faso.
The new vaccine, called MenAfriVac, provides 10 years of immunity against meningococcal A, a potentially fatal disease that infects the lining around the brain and spinal cord.
The WHO says the vaccine is the first designed specifically for Africa.
Health workers will begin to vaccinate some 12 million people in Burkina Faso starting Monday. Similar vaccination operations are scheduled for Mali and Niger.
The WHO says it hopes that by 2015, people in all 25 countries of Africa's meningitis belt, which stretches from Senegal to Ethiopia, will be protected against the disease.
The WHO says as many as 450 million people across Africa are at risk from meningitis.
Meningococcal A epidemics hit the continent every 7 to 14 years. Last year, an outbreak across sub-Saharan Africa killed more than 5,000 people.