WEDNESDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Teenagers should get a
booster shot of the vaccine that protects against bacterial
meningitis, a U.S. health advisory panel recommended Wednesday.
The panel made the recommendation because the vaccine appears
not to last as long as previously thought.
In 2007, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that the
meningitis vaccine -- usually given to college freshman -- be
offered to 11 and 12 year olds, the
Associated Press reported. The vaccine was initially aimed at
high school and college students because bacterial meningitis is
more dangerous for teens and can spread easily in crowded settings,
such as dorm rooms.
At that time the panel thought the vaccine would be effective
for at least 10 years. But, information presented at the panel's
meeting Wednesday showed the vaccine is effective for less than
The panel then decided to recommend that teens should get a
booster shot at 16.
Although the CDC is not bound by its advisory panels'
recommendations, the agency usually adopts them. However, a U.S.
Food and Drug Administration official, Norman Baylor, said more
studies about the safety and effectiveness of a second dose of the
vaccine are needed, the
Some at the meeting wondered if it was even necessary to make
such a decision. Cases of bacterial meningitis are at historic
lows, and a survey of more than 200 colleges and universities --
representing more than 2 million students -- in the last academic
year found 11 cases of bacterial meningitis and three deaths, the
In a news release issued after the vote, the National Meningitis
Association said it "supports [the] decision to maintain
meningococcal immunization at age 11-12 and to add a booster dose
to provide increased prevention of disease among adolescents
throughout their high-risk years. This is a good public health
decision that will protect our children from meningococcal
Also Wednesday, the panel recommended that people 65 and older
who are near infants get vaccinated against whooping cough, the
AP reported. The recommendation came in response to an
outbreak of whooping cough this year in California, where more than
6,200 cases have been reported. Nine of the 10 infants who have
died were too young to be fully vaccinated against the disease.
Children get whooping cough vaccine in a series of shots
beginning at 2 months. Health officials believe elderly caregivers
can play a small role in spreading the contagious infection to
infants, the news service said.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the
brain and spinal cord, and is usually caused by a viral or
bacterial infection. The disease can result in brain damage,
hearing loss or learning disabilities, according to the CDC.
In January, the
New England Journal of Medicine published a study that found
that rates of pneumococcal meningitis have declined substantially
since a vaccine was introduced in 2000.
The declines were seen not only in children given the vaccine
but also in adults, suggesting a "herd immunity" effect, the study
To assess the effect of the vaccine, researchers from several
universities analyzed surveillance data from 1998 to 2005 in eight
states. The number of cases of the disease dropped 30 percent in
that time, but the effect on the very youngest and oldest was even
more pronounced: Incidence decreased by 64 percent in those younger
than 2 and by 54 percent in those older than 65.
For more on meningitis, visit the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
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