New recommendations for kids’ meningitis vaccines
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated their recommendations for the use of meningococcal vaccines in children and adolescents. Children who are high risk for meningitis should be considered for the vaccine prior to the standard recommendation of 11 years of age.
In the August 2014 issue of Pediatrics, the AAP recommends an age-appropriate meningococcal conjugate vaccine instead of the meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine for children and adolescents.
“We needed to have new recommendations so that pediatricians would understand how to use these vaccines in young infants and children, since they’re now available,” said guidelines author Dr. Michael Brady, associate medical director at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio in a statement.
“We’re telling pediatricians that we don’t feel it’s necessary to give this vaccination routinely to young children,” he added, “but for children with select risks, it’s a good vaccine to give.”
Two new meningococcal vaccines have been licensed for use in infants since the last policy statement was released by the AAP in 2011.
Generally, adolescents are recommended to get their first dose of the vaccine at 11 to 12 years of age and a booster dose at 16 years.
“Meningococcal vaccines are an important way to help protect children from this disease that can be life threatening,” says Dr. Adam Ebreo, pediatrician with Advocate Medical Group and Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “[The disease] can cause brain damage, hearing problems, or other serious health complications.”
Ebreo says the vaccine recommendations will help ensure that children are protected during their preteen and teen years, especially when they are going off to college. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the greatest risk is in individuals between 15 and 21 years of age. Also, students entering college and planning to live in dorms are at higher risk than other people of the same age.
About the Author
Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.