The FDA has approved a combined first- and second-line vaccination schedule for meningococcal vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. The news is a major update to older parents who have worried that a vaccine that protects against both meningococcal and tetanus and diphtheria will worsen allergies in children.
According to the National Immunization Program, two doses of the bivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine, or BCG, are currently approved for infants aged 6 months and older. The first dose is recommended for females of childbearing age, at 6 weeks. The recommended second dose is recommended for females of childbearing age, at 6 or 12 weeks. A second dose is recommended for males at 12-18 months.
The inclusion of such a second-line booster dose, as published by the CDC, is important because among many older adults, the disease appears to have decreased but women still report symptoms.
“Today’s approval expands CDC’s evidence base that vaccinating women of childbearing age and males of childbearing age is appropriate,” Dr. Susan Shurin, director of the Center for Women’s Health at the CDC, said in a release.
“As a physician, I have heard from many women who worry that a meningococcal vaccine, which includes protection against three vaccine-preventable diseases, might increase their risk of allergic reactions to food,” said Dr. Erin Fox, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco, in a statement.
“However, including a second-line dose of meningococcal vaccine, such as the second dose of the vaccine for meningococcal disease (Meningococcal disease) will reduce the risk of allergic reactions and improve overall safety of this vaccine.”
Earlier this year, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of experts that advises the CDC on immunization for pregnant women and adolescent girls and boys, voted to recommend that all pregnant women receive a meningococcal shot.