New Meningococcal Vaccine Recommended

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Meningococcal Vaccine

Many people think only college students living on campus are at increased risk for meningococcal disease when in fact younger adolescents are also at increased from this serious and potentially deadly infection.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently recommended that children 11-12 years old and teens entering high school, as well as college freshman living in dormitories, receive a newly licensed vaccine known as Menactra for use to prevent meningococcal disease. The CDC determined that establishing the target age at 11 years may give lasting immunity through college.

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"Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial infection that can cause meningitis, severe swelling of the brain and spinal cord and can also manifest as sepsis, a dangerous and potentially life-threatening blood infection," said Robert Baltimore, M.D., pediatric infectious disease specialist at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital and professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine.

Teens and young adults, especially college students, are more at risk for the disease than others because they spend a lot of time with many of their peers in close quarters like dormitories where germs can rapidly spread.

One shot of Menactra is expected to increase immunity against four of the five deadliest strains of meningococcal bacteria for eight to 10 years, twice as long as the protection provided by an earlier vaccine, Menomune: manufactured by the same company.

To obtain a free copy of a Yale-New Haven Hospital publication, "Pediatric HealthLink," to read more about meningococcal disease and the new vaccine, please call 688.2000 or toll free 1.888.700.6543 or visit the hospital web site:

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