Meningitis in the News

New Recommendations For Meningitis Vaccine Booster

West Milford – According to Dr. Paul Offit of the Vaccine Education Center and the Division of Infectious Disease at the Childrenís Hospital of Philadelphia, there are new recommendations for Menactra, a meningitis vaccine.

The current recommendation remains in place, that adolescents between 11 and 13 receive the vaccine. What has changed is that a booster be added between 16 and 18 years of age, roughly five years later, to make sure kids are protected through adolescence and through the early years of college.

In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the Menactra vaccine for all adolescents between 11 and 13 years of age. At the time, it was anticipated that the vaccine immunity and vaccine effectiveness would last for 10 years, so this would last through adolescence and the first year of college, during which thereís clearly an increased risk for invasive meningococcal disease. However, that assumption was found to be wrong in several ways, according to a release by the West Milford Health Department.

First, immunity does appear to decline after five years, earlier than had been suspected. Secondly, if you look at vaccine effectiveness, within the first two years of getting the vaccine, it is in the low 90 percent range, but when you look between two and five years after vaccination, although the numbers are fairly low and the confidence intervals are wide, it looks like the protection drops into the low 50 percent range.

Similarly, some evidence for herd immunity was expected, as had been seen for the conjugate Haemophilus influenzae type-B vaccine and the conjugate pneumococcal vaccine, but that didnít appear to be happening. It appears that the vaccine is protecting only those who are vaccinated and not extending beyond that group. For that reason, members of the Advisory Community for Immunization Practices (ACIP) changed the recommendation at their last meeting in October.

The Menactra booster is available at the West Milford Health Department for $16. Call 973-728-2725 for your appointment. The vaccine is available for everyone between the ages of 2 and 55 who are living in a dormitory setting, traveling to places where meningococcal disease is common, like Africa, who has a damaged spleen, or has an immune suppressed disorder. This vaccine is required for all children in West Milford schools at age 11.