Federal panel decides meningitis B vaccination not mandatory
- Parents and advocates are outraged after the FDA's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted 14 to 1 against universal hepatitis B vaccination.
- There are already guidelines in place for vaccinating college-age students aginst four other strains of meningitis, but not meningitis B.
- There are about 50 to 60 cases of meningitis B in adolescents and young adults in the U.S. each year, which lead to between five to 10 deaths.
The decision to position meningitis B vaccination as a category B class recommendation is largely based ona pharmacoeconomic analysis. Basically, it would take vaccination of one million to three million individuals in the recommended age category (16 to 23) to prevent one case of meningitis, and the vaccine is relatively enpensive. However, on the other side of this argument, parents and other advocates for meningitis B vaccination say that the virus can be fast moving and deadly, and even if an infected patient doesn't die, meningitis B infection can lead to disfigurement, including lost limbs and digits.
When patients are vaccinated against hepatitis B, ACIP has recommended two vaccine options: Trumenba from Pfizer or Bexsero from GlaxoSmithKline. Despite the category B recommendation, most vaccinations will be covered by private insurance or by the federal Vaccines for Children program.