The Canadian Press
By Mike Stobbe (CP) – 1 day ago
ATLANTA — Teens should get a booster dose of the vaccine for bacterial meningitis because a single shot doesn’t work as long as expected, a U.S. federal advisory panel said Wednesday.
The vaccine was initially aimed at high school and college students because the disease is more dangerous for adolescents and can easily spread in crowded conditions, like dorm rooms. Three years ago, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said the vaccine should be offered to children ages 11 and 12. They believed the shot was effective for at least 10 years.
But the panel was told Wednesday that studies show the vaccine works for less than five years.
The committee debated adding a booster shot or simply push back the timing of the single dose to age 14 or 15. They decided that teens should get a booster dose at age 16.
The vote for a second shot was 6-5, an unusually close vote for the panel. The panel majority concluded a booster after five years would be easier and less confusing to implement than changing the age for the first shot.
The group provides vaccine advice to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services usually adopt the panel’s recommendations and sends the advice to doctors and the public.
However, this recommendation may not be adopted quite so easily. A Food and Drug Administration official, Norman Baylor, said more studies about the safety and effectiveness of a second dose of the vaccine are needed.
Some 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 two million students — in the last academic year found 11 cases of bacterial meningitis and three deaths.
“I’m not terribly worried about emergent disease,” said Dr. James Turner, head of student health at the University of Virginia. He is a liaison to the panel for the American College Health Association.
But during a public comment session, several people made passionate pleas to keep an initial dose at 11 and 12, and add a booster if necessary. A 25-year-old man told of how his legs and hands were amputated after a bacterial meningitis infection when he was 14.
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