The recent FDA approval of a new vaccine for Meningococci type B is being greeted with enthusiasm by Nicklaus Children's doctors.
Meningicocci is the cause of one of the most devastating forms of bacterial meningitis. Five serotypes are responsible for these infections but until now we only had a vaccine which protect agains 4 of these serotypes (A, C, Y and W).
The new vaccine protects against Meningococci serotype B, the bacterial infection implicated in the recent tragic deaths of several college students. Meningococci B is contagious and can be contracted during close contact, including coughing, kissing or sharing drinking cups and utensils.
“This is important breakthrough,” said Dr. Marcelo Laufer, an infectious diseases specialist at Nicklaus Children's. “The new vaccine has the potential to prevent death or disability caused by this devastating bacterial infection. So far we only have data of the effectiveness of the vaccine in children 10 years of age and older but hopefully in in the near future we are going to have a similar vaccine for the younger population, which is affected by the B serotype more frequently than the older population."
Dr. Gloria Riefkhol, a pediatrician with the Nicklaus Children's Hospital Pediatric Care Center, said, “The meningitis B vaccine is particularly important for college students living in dormitories,” citing the recent meningitis B related deaths at Princeton and George Washington universities.
Dr. Riefkohl noted that it may take more than a year before the vaccine is widely available, while Centers for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics and other entities establish guidelines, insurance companies review coverage of the vaccine and care teams order supplies.
The current recommendation for the ACYW vaccine is a dose at age 11 with a booster typically given at age 16. It will have to be determined if the new vaccine will be given at the same time, she noted.
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