Last Updated: 2007-10-18 16:01:41 -0400 (Reuters Health)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved use of the vaccine Menactra, made by Sanofi-Aventis, to prevent bacterial meningitis in young children. The FDA expanded the age range to as young as 2 years old. Previously, the age range was 11 to 55.

"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 Dr. Jesse Goodman, director of FDA’s center for biologics.

Sanofi makes the other meningitis vaccine as well.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccination for travelers to countries where the infection is a problem, those with damaged spleens, college students living in dorms and military recruits, among others.

Menactra was approved by the U.S. government in 2005. It has been linked with a few cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome among some teens.

The CDC has said it was investigating whether the vaccine caused the reaction, which has been associated with other vaccines.

Copyright Reuters 2007.