CDC panel backs additional vax doses

Good news for makers of the meningitis vaccine--sort of. A CDC advisory panel recommended a booster shot for teenagers, effectively doubling the number of shots kids would get--and doubling the number of doses sold as well. Meningitis vaccines now on the market include Sanofi Pasteur's Menactra and Novartis' Menveo, as well as Sanofi's older version Menomune.

But the recommendation was something of a backhanded compliment: It's necessary because the vaccines aren't as effective as billed. One shot was expected to confer immunity for at least 10 years, but the CDC panel heard new data that show the shots working for less than five years. 

Currently, guidelines recommend one injection, usually given to college freshmen. Now, the panel would like to change the schedule to one injection for 11- to 12-year-olds and another when kids turn 16. One caveat: The shots are expensive, and meningitis remains rare. But the panel estimated the current vaccination schedule saved nine lives per year. The new schedule is projected to save 24.

Meanwhile, the panel also recommended additional whooping-cough vaccinations: a booster for 11- to 64-year-olds, and a shot for seniors who spend time with infants. The whooping-cough vaccine is included in a combo shot against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; versions are made by GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi.

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