In a recent press release, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that they have increased the age range for children to get the bacterial meningitis vaccine. In the past, younger children weren’t typically given the meningitis vaccine. Now the age range now includes children between 2 to 10 years old.
The Centers for Disease Control is now recommending that all children at high risk for contracting bacterial meningitis get a vaccine to protect themself from this illness. What children are at high risk? This would include kids whose spleen does not work properly, or children who have had their spleen removed. There could be other conditions that would put a child at high risk of contracting bacterial meningitis, including those with the medical condition known as terminal complement component deficiency. This disease limits one’s ability to fight infections. If you think your child needs this vaccine, please contact your child’s physician.
Bacterial meningitis is common in other countries outside of the United States. Therefore, the CDC also recommends that vacationers or travelers who will be going to an area where this disease is common receive a vaccination to prevent bacterial meningitis.
In the past, consumers only had one choice of vaccines for children under the age of 11 that would protect them against meningitis. Now, consumers have their choice of either vaccine. The FDA is recommending that people at high risk for contracting bacterial meningitis get either the vaccine named Menactra or Menomune.
The vaccine Menactra was approved in January, 2005, but that approval was limited to people between the ages of 11 and 55. Now consumers can also use this vaccine.
Before January, 2005, the vaccine named Menomune was approved for use in adults and children who were over 2 years old.
Either of these vaccines will protect against four different types of the neisseria mningitidis bacteria that is the cause of bacterial meningitis. Possible side effects include drowsiness, lack of appetite, and diarrhea.
“Approving Menactra for younger children offers another option for health care providers and parents. Now there are two vaccines available for children between 2 and 10 years of age who may be at increased risk of meningitis,” said Jesse L. Goodman, M.D., M.P.H., director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
Every year, approximately 2,600 people contract bacterial meningitis and become ill in the United States. While rare, bacterial meningitis can cause death. Approximately 10 percent of people who contract it die. It can also cause permanent brain damage or limb amputation. Approximately 15 percent of people with bacterial meningitis suffer brain damage.
Bacterial meningitis is spread from person to person, and is caused by bacteria. It causes the lining that surrounds the spinal cord and brain to become inflamed.