Bacterial Meningitis Vaccine For At-Risk Infants Recommended By CDC Panel

A vaccine that prevents bacterial meningitis has been recommended for certain infants by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reuters reports that the recommendations are not related to the current outbreak of fungal meningitis. Furthermore, the vaccine is not recommended for all infants but those that at higher risk, suffering from sickle cell disease and an immune system disorder known as complement component deficiency.

The newly approved vaccine was developed by GlaxoSmithKline. The vaccine is called MenHibrix, and targets two common causes of bacterial meningitis. Healio reports that the recommendation concerning the meningitis vaccine was made by a vote of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The vote came on the heels of information that 50 cases of bacterial meningitis per year could be prevented via immunization.

The CDC did not recommend the vaccine for wider use because the number of preventable cases was not more significant, and also because many cases of infant meningitis are caused by a type of the bacteria that cannot be prevented by meningococcal vaccines. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine in June.

Reuters reports that 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis occurred in the United States every year between 2003 and 2007. Moreover, 500 people died from the disease during that time. Infants are at highest risk. The new vaccine is designed to protect against two of the three most common bacteria that cause meningitis.

Lynn Bozof, president of the National Meningitis Association, echoed hopes that the vaccine could help people.

“I can’t help but think of the family members who lose an infant to this illness, and then they learn a vaccine was available that could have helped,” he said