We wrote about the new serogroup B vaccine recommendation when CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted on it in June.
On October 23, 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved and published the recommendation for permissive use of serogroup B meningococcal vaccine for adolescents at age 16-23, with a preferred age of 16-18. This made the recommendation official.
The meningococcal vaccine for A, C, W and Y is recommended at age 11-12 with a booster at 16 and is part of the routine vaccination schedule. The B vaccine is recommended permissively, meaning that parents have a larger responsibility to seek and request the vaccine. That’s why it’s so important for parents to speak with their child’s healthcare provider to make sure their child is fully vaccinated against the disease.
To make the vaccination process clearer and easier for everyone who wants to be fully protected, especially given this new recommendation, we have answered some common questions about meningococcal vaccination below.
Q: Can my teen receive the serogroup B vaccine during the same visit as the A, C, W and Y vaccine?
A: Yes, your teen can be vaccinated against serogroup B during the same visit as the quadrivalent vaccine, preferably in different arms. Fortunately teens can receive the quadrivalent vaccine and start the serogroup B series of shots at one visit at the age of 16. The serogroup B vaccines require either two or three doses.
Q: What can I do if my doctor doesn’t stock the serogroup B vaccine?
A: Because the serogroup B vaccine is still very new, some doctors may not have it in their offices yet. You can ask your doctor to order the vaccine. Otherwise, college health centers, pharmacies and/or travel clinics may have it in stock. Another way to locate vaccine providers who carry serogroup B vaccines is by using the HealthMap Vaccine Finder: http://vaccine.healthmap.org/
Q: Why isn’t the serogroup B vaccine recommended the same way the quadrivalent vaccine is?
A: Serogroup B meningococcal disease is very rare, and because the vaccines are new, we don’t know exactly how long their protection will last or if they will protect against every case of serogroup B disease. That being said, it is possible that the CDC will reconsider a routine recommendation in the future. NMA will continue to advocate for broader recommendation for the serogroup B vaccine.
Q: Does insurance cover the serogroup B vaccine?
A: Health plans will be required to cover serogroup B meningococcal disease vaccines beginning October 23, 2016, but many insurers will begin covering the vaccines before that date.
Note: The Vaccines for Children program (VFC) will provide vaccines at no cost to children who might not be vaccinated due to an inability to pay. VFC will cover the cost of the serogroup B vaccine for children ages 16 through 18 years old, or who are 10 through 18 years old and are identified at being at increased risk of developing meningitis B.