Meningitis vaccine guidance is revised

February 10, 2011

New CDC guidance recommends that 16-year-olds receive a booster meningitis vaccine shot.

In new guidance on quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that 16-year-olds receive a booster meningitis vaccine shot. The agency also updated its general immunization recommendations and dispelled myths about vaccine contraindications.

CDC’s new recommendations on meningitis vaccines say that adolescents should be vaccinated routinely against meningococcal disease, ideally between the ages of 10 to 12 years. At the age of 16, they should receive a booster dose.

“After licensure, additional data on bactericidal antibody persistence, trends in meningococcal disease epidemiology in the U.S., and vaccine effectiveness have indicated many adolescents may not be protected for more than 5 years. Therefore, persons immunized at age 11 or 12 years might have decreased protective immunity by ages 16 through 21 years, when their risk for disease is greatest,” CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report stated.

According to the new recommendations, 2 doses of meningitis vaccine should be administered to HIV-infected adolescents and patients with persistent complement component deficiency or functional or anatomic asplenia.

In CDC’s revised immunization recommendations, clinicians are advised that mild illness with or without fever is not a contraindication for administering any vaccine. Low-grade or moderate fevers after administration of a previous dose are also not a contraindication for administering vaccines.

A new table in the immunization recommendations lists misconceptions about the contraindications of vaccines. One common false belief, according to CDC, is that healthcare providers who care for people with chronic diseases or altered immunocompetence should not receive the zoster vaccine or the live inactivated influenza virus vaccine.