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Meningococcal disease continues to be disabling and deadly, especially for infants and adolescents

Rates of meningococcal disease have been declining in the United States since the late 1990s, and in 2016, there were about 370 total cases of meningococcal disease reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Still, it is a deadly disease, affecting primarily children and young adults. Rates of meningococcal disease are highest in children younger than age 1 year, followed by a peak in adolescents and young adults, with those aged 16-23 years having the highest rates in this portion of the population. Of all cases of meningococcal disease, 21% affect preteens, teens, and young adults aged 11-24 years. Even with antibiotic treatment, 10%-15% of patients infected with Neisseria meningitidis die. Of those who survive, 11%-19% have permanent disabilities, such as brain damage, hearing loss, loss of kidney function, or limb amputations, according to the CDC. There are vaccines for a number of the serotypes of N. meningitidis, the organism that causes meningococcal disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all children aged 11-12 years be vaccinated with a meningococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects against serotypes A, C, W, and Y. The vaccine should also be given to children aged 12-23 months who are at increased risk for meningococcal disease. But why does ACIP only recommend that all adolescents and young adults (16-23 years) may be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, preferably at age 16-18 years? There are other questions about meningococcal disease, its prevention, and treatment. What is the difficulty of early recognition of meningococcal infection? How long does the protection of vaccines against N. meningitidis last? What are the costs of untreated meningococcal infection?

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What are the unanswered questions about serogroup B meningococcal vaccines?

Dr. Stephen I. Pelton, chief of the section of pediatric infectious diseases at Boston Medical Center, talks about some of the questions that remain to be answered about serogroup B meningococcal vaccines, such as indirect protection and prevention of acquisition of colonization. Watch the video to find out more.

Is there a role for booster vaccines with serogroup B meningococcal vaccines?

As with all vaccines, there is the question with serogroup B meningococcal vaccines of whether their immunogenicity will last over time or if booster vaccines are required. Dr. Stephen I. Pelton, chief of the section of pediatric infectious diseases at Boston Medical Center, answers this question in this video.

How do the two new meningococcal serogroup B vaccines work?

Just how the two new serogroup B meningococcal vaccines are formulated differently and how they protect against infection are answered in the following video by Dr. Stephen I. Pelton, chief of the section of pediatric infectious diseases at Boston Medical Center.

Why did the ACIP decide on a Category B recommendation for the MenB vaccines?

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) develops written recommendations for the routine administration of vaccines, in addition to schedules regarding the appropriate timing, dosage, and contraindications. Key factors – the balance between benefits and harm, the evidence type or quality, values and preferences, and health economic analyses – are used to refine the recommendation and to determine what category of recommendation is made, either Category A or Category B. Read more to discover why ACIP decided on a Category B recommendation for the MenB vaccines.

Vaccine hesitancy or refusal of MenB vaccination during an outbreak

Parents sometimes are hesitant to allow their children to receive vaccines. Read about why parents may be hesitant or refuse to allow their teens to receive the MenB vaccines during an outbreak of Neisseria meningitides serotype B infections and how to talk with these parents.

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