FDA OKs Meningitis Vaccine For Toddlers
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the vaccine Menactra in kids as young as nine months old to prevent “invasive meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroups A, C, Y and W-135,” or meningitis. The vaccine already had approval, but only for use in people ages 2 to 55.
Meningococcal disease is a potentially fatal illness caused by bacteria that infect the bloodstream (sepsis) and the lining around the brain and spinal cord. Neisseria meningitidis is a top cause of meningitis in kids and even the appropriate antibiotics and intensive care can fail 10-15% of people who develop meningococcal disease. Another 10-20% suffer complications, such as brain damage or loss of a limb or hearing.
The danger with the illness, which spreads quickly, is the rapid progression. It is also hard to detect because the symptoms can mirror that of the flu.
The safety of Menactra in children as young as nine months was evaluated in four clinical studies that tested more than 3,700 participants. The most common adverse side effects in those ages nine to 12 months were tenderness around the injection site and irritability.
The vaccine, which is manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, is given as a two-dose series starting at 9 months, with the second dose administered three months later.