Earlier today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for permissive use of serogroup B meningococcal vaccine for older teens and young adults (full language below).
A serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine series may be administered to adolescents and young adults 16 through 23 years of age to provide short term protection against most strains of serogroup B meningococcal disease. The preferred age for B vaccination is 16 through 18 years of age.
What Does This Mean?
Until now, the meningococcal vaccine recommended for routine vaccination only protected against four of five major strains of the disease (A, C, W and Y). Today’s recommendation is critical because, if accepted by CDC, it allows those 16 to 18 to decide, in collaboration with their parents and healthcare professionals, if they wish to be immunized against the fifth serogroup (B), which is currently the most common cause of disease in this age range. It will also ensure the meningitis B vaccines are covered by public and private insurance and medical practices will be more likely to stock and administer them.
What Happens Now?
It is important to know that this recommendation is for a new and different vaccination than the routinely recommended one your teen may already have received:
- If your child has not received any meningococcal vaccines, he or she should get the recommended vaccine to protect against A, C, W and Y at age 11-12 with a booster at 16. When your child goes to get the booster, ask about the B vaccine.
- If your teen received at least one A, C, W and Y meningococcal vaccine, you should make sure he or she goes back for the booster at age 16 and ask about the B vaccine for ages 16 to 23.
- If your teen is up-to-date on meningococcal vaccines (including the booster), call your healthcare provider and ask about the B vaccine.
(Note, depending on which vaccine your provider uses, the serogroup B vaccination may be a two or three dose series.)
Please help spread the word about the need for vaccination against all serogroups of meningitis. Educating parents, teens and young adults, healthcare providers and college administrators about available vaccination options is extremely important.
Why Did We Need a Recommendation to #BVaccinated?
Though rare, meningococcal disease affects persons of all ages in the U.S. and is potentially deadly. Serogroup B accounts for one-third of U.S. cases, and is the most common cause of disease in adolescents. From 2013 to 2015 alone, four college campuses experienced outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease. There were also many isolated cases.
However, numbers can’t tell the whole story and we’re grateful for the many advocates who shared their personal stories to help put a face to this disease. Here are some samples of what NMA’s M.O.M. and T.E.A.M. members said or submitted to the ACIP today:
In addition, about 1,240 people representing all 50 states signed NMA’s open letter to ACIP supporting broad serogroup B vaccination recommendations. We were overwhelmed by the responses from healthcare professionals, college health professionals, parents, college students, individuals touched by this disease and others who support prevention. We received more than 500 comments, which you can read here.
This recommendation is an important step forward; let’s use it to make sure all teens are A, C, W, Y and #BVaccinated.