Our children receive quite a few vaccines in the first few years of life. Many of them are given to prevent invasive diseases caused by bacteria. One of these is a bacteria is called Nisseria Meningititis. This bacteria specifically, causes serious blood and brain infections that can cause blindness, deafness, deformity and somitimes death. Meningicoccal disease is not as contagious as other illnesses, such as cold or flu. But it is spread by contact with infected secretions from coughing, kissing or sneezing. Because the risk of meningitis increases with close personal contact, family members in the same household and caregivers are at increased risk. For the same reason, so are college students that live in dorms.
The first vaccine for meningococcus was meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine or MPSV4, approved in the early 1980's. It is still the only vaccine approved for people over 55 years old.
The meningococcal conjugate vaccine or MCV4 for teens was approved in 2005. This vaccine, like MPSV4, covers certain serogroups of Meningococcus known as Men A,C,W, and Y.This vaccine, however, made it easier for the body's immune system to see and recognize the antigen.
As of 2015, we have come further in the pursuit of eliminating Neisseria Meningitidis infections.
Infants as young as 6 weeks to 18 months now have the opportunity to be vaccinated against meningococcal serogroups C and Y. This vaccine will be combined with the Haemophilus B conjugate vaccine which is typically given at 2,4, 6 and 12-15 months.
And finally, we will now be able to vaccinate individuals between 10 and 25 years old with Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B vaccine. Serogroup B is, in fact the most common serogroup causing Meningitis in the general population and had not yet had an effective vaccine.
Over the next few months, our office will be offering the new meningitis vaccines for infants and offering the second meningitis vaccine for teens.
For more information about meningitis vaccines for your children and other vaccines coming soon, visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mening-serogroup.html.