Magazine article Drug Topics

ACIP Expands Meningitis Vaccine Recommendations

Magazine article Drug Topics

ACIP Expands Meningitis Vaccine Recommendations

Article excerpt

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voted at its February meeting to recommend that individuals 10 years of age and older who are at increased risk of meningococcal disease should be vaccinated with serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (MenB).

People with increased risk include those with persistent complement component deficiencies or anatomic or functional asplenia, along with microbiologists routinely exposed to isolates of the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. Those identified to be at increased risk because of a meningitis outbreak similar to some of the many outbreaks on U.S. college campuses in recent months should also be vaccinated, according to ACIP.

Vulnerable groups

In 2015 to date, meningococcal outbreaks have been reported on college campuses, including a large outbreak at the University of Oregon and smaller incidents at Yale and Providence College. From 2009 through 2013, 600,000 college students were at risk in outbreaks that occurred on various campuses, according to Jessica MacNeil, MPH, epidemiologist with the CDC.

Public commenters at the February meeting urged the ACIP to make the MenB vaccine mandatory for children. For example, at the meeting Mary Ferris, MD, student health director at the University of California - Santa Barbara, urged the CDC to establish the MenB vaccine as part of routine adolescent vaccinations in the United States, "so our students are protected before they even get to campus."

Ferris recalled how the campus of 30,000 students, faculty, and staff was devastated by a meningitis outbreak in November 2013, when four cases were reported in a 10-day period. The cases included a lacrosse team player who had to have both legs amputated.

"There was widespread fear and panic among students, faculty, and staff. People drove in to take their students back home, and parents demanded we close the campus," Ferris said. Although UCSB obtained emergency doses of MenB vaccine, "we would have much rather preferred to have the vaccine in advance to prevent this," she said. "Outbreaks will happen again, and most universities will not have the resources to pay for vaccines when outbreaks do occur."

Another group needing immunization is microbiologists who work with the disease, since the attack rate of the disease is 13 per 100,000, according to MacNeil. …

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