Based on a recently published report in the digest Morbidity and Mortality Report, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (“ACIP”) is now recommending a third meningococcal conjugate vaccine as an option for infants aged 2 to 23 months who are at increased risk of contracting the disease.
Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness that is caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus. These illnesses are often severe and include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream (bacteremia or septicemia). Meningococcus is spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like saliva (e.g., by living in close quarters, sneezing, kissing, etc.). Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics, but quick medical attention is extremely important.
Menveo™ (Novartis) is a quadrivalent vaccine designed to protect against four types of meningococcal disease and is approved by the FDA for use in persons 2 months through 55 years of age. In addition, it is the first quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine licensed for use in children aged 2 through 8 months. Because the incidence of meningococcal disease in infants is low in the United States and the majority of cases that do occur are caused by a type not included in any vaccine licensed in the United States, the ACIP recommends that only those infants who are at risk of contracting meningococcal disease receive the vaccine. Routine vaccination against meningococcus is not recommended for children aged 2 months to 10 years.
An infant is considered at increased risk for meningococcal disease if he or she has persistent complement component deficiencies, functional or anatomic asplenia, lives in a community with a meningococcal disease outbreak, or is traveling to or residing in areas where meningococcal disease is hyperendemic or epidemic.
A vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. While the vast majority of individuals who receive vaccines do so without incident, some individuals suffer side effects. These side effects can range from mild, to moderate, to severe. Very rarely, individuals experience serious adverse reactions to a vaccine to include, but not limited to, anaphylaxis, encephalopathy, brain damage, seizures, and death. If you believe that you or a friend or relative has suffered an adverse reaction to a vaccine and has been injured, you could be eligible for compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
Reference: Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014;63:527-530.