The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) applauds and strongly supports new recommendations made yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to expand the meningococcal disease immunization recommendations to encompass a broad range of adolescents. The ACIP now recommends meningococcal vaccination for all adolescents 11-18 years of age.

The vote to expand the CDC’s previous meningococcal immunization recommendations took place during the June 27 meeting of the ACIP in Atlanta, Ga. The decision was based upon the disease epidemiology data showing an increased risk for disease among adolescents and young adults 11-18 years of age and increased availability of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine.

Meningococcal disease is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in US toddlers, adolescents and young adults. Symptoms include high fever, headache, stiff neck, confusion, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion and a rash may appear. The disease progresses quickly and can lead to death or permanent disability, including hearing loss, brain damage, and limb amputations within hours of first symptoms. Vaccination is the best means of preventing meningococcal disease.

The expanded recommendations will replace the previous immunization recommendations calling for immunization only at the preadolescent doctor’s visit, or for those previously not immunized, at high school entry or for college freshmen planning to live in a dormitory. Immunization is now recommended for all adolescents 11-18 years of age.

“This new vaccination approach is a positive step toward protecting an increased number of adolescents from this serious and potentially deadly bacterial infection,” says Carol Baker, MD, NFID’s president, and professor of pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine. “NFID supports ACIP’s decision to broaden the age cohorts recommended for meningococcal immunization and believes these recommendations will help drastically reduce the incidence of meningococcal disease among this age group and save lives.”

In 2005, NFID launched an educational initiative called S.T.O.P. Meningitis! (Share. Teach. Outreach. Protect.) in collaboration with the nation’s leading medical and advocacy organizations to increase clinician and consumer awareness of meningococcal disease prevention. Through this program, NFID will provide clinicians and other health care professionals with the tools and resources needed to educate patients and parents about the new recommendations and encourage immunization.

Additional Resources

For more information about meningococcal disease or the new recommendations, visit the NFID or CDC

Web sites.

SOURCE: The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases