meningitis vaccine

There are actually three vaccines in general use for children in the United States targeted chiefly at bacterial meningitis. The oldest is the Hemophilus influenzae type B (HiB) vaccine, given to babies in the first 6 months of life. More recently, the polyvalent pneumococcal vaccine (Prevar®) has come into universal use. Both of these vaccines have led to dramatic drops in menigeal disease (as well as other serious infections caused by these bacteria, such as epiglottitis caused by H. influenzae and serious pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae.

More recently, a vaccine protective against four strains of Neisseria meningitidis (menigococcus) which cause so-called "spinal meningitis". This is the most deadly form of meningitis, having a 22% mortality rate and being highly contagious. Since 2005 there has been a vaccine on the market, Menactra® (Sanofi Pasteur), against this pathogen. Current recommendations from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) advise universal immunization of all adolescents aged 11-18 years.

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