Vax panel votes to add meningitis booster dose

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 6-5 Wednesday to add a booster dose of the meningitis vaccine at age 16. Reuters notes that health officials want to address waning immunity among older teens against the bacteria that cause meningitis. Researchers had believed the benefits of the vaccine lasted for at least 10 years, but new evidence suggests that its benefits begin to wane after five years, the LA Times reports. The CDC tends to follow the recommendations of its advisory committees.

Routine vaccination at age 11-12 years continues to be recommended with a booster dose at age 16. For adolescents who are first vaccinated between 13 and 15 years of age, a booster dose is recommended 5 years after the first dose through age 21, according to the National Meningitis Association.

The news comes after the announcement of data from a new trial of Novartis' Menveo involving more than 4,500 babies. The study found that four doses generated strong immune response against four strains of the bacteria. One month after the last dose--given at 12 months of age--the infants' immune response ranged from 94 percent to 100 percent, depending on the serotype. Perhaps as important was that it was well tolerated even when administered alongside the usual child vaccines.

Novartis intends to submit a sBLA based on these pivotal data to the FDA by the end of the year. If approved, Menveo will be the only meningococcal quadrivalent conjugate vaccine that could be administered to infants 2 months of age and older. Menveo's direct rival--the Sanofi Pasteur shot Menactra--is approved for ages 2 to 10 years.

"As the most vulnerable age group, infants should be directly protected from this unpredictable and devastating disease," says Division Head of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Andrin Oswald. "These data are another step in the significant progress Novartis is making toward our goal of protecting all age groups against meningococcal disease."

- read the National Meningitis Association's release
- see the LA Times story
- get more from Reuters