Q: Should college students get the newer meningococcal B vaccine?
A: Meningococcal B vaccination has been advised largely for those falling into certain higher-risk groups.
For others, vaccination is left up to the discretion of physicians based on the risks and benefits for each individual patient.
“It’s not routinely recommended for everyone,” said Dr. OYINADE AKINYEDE, a pediatrician at Christie Clinic.
Meningococcal infections can be life-threatening.
The vaccines were developed because the meningococcal vaccine routinely recommended for adolescents and teens covers four common serogroups (A, C, W and Y), but doesn’t cover serogroup B.
A study published this year in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases found there were 10 university-based serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreaks from 2013 to 2018 involving 39 total cases and two deaths.
What parents wondering about whether their college-age kids should get the meningococcal B vaccination should consider is that the overall incidence of the disease has been low and research is still underway on the long-term efficacy and side effects of these vaccines, Akinyede said.
The advice has been clear that the quadrivalent meningococcal A/C/W/Y vaccine is routinely recommended for kids ages 11-12 and a booster dose is needed at age 16.
With respect to the meningococcal B vaccination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said those who “should” be vaccinated are those age 10 and older who are at increased risk for the disease due to a serogroup B meningococcal outbreak or those with certain medical conditions, including a damaged or removed spleen, sickle-cell disease or a rare condition called persistent complement component deficiency.
For those who don’t fall into those higher-risk meningococcal B categories, the CDC said the vaccines “may” also be given to anyone age 16-23 to provide short-term protection against most strains of serogroup B meningococcal disease, with the preferred age range for vaccination in these cases being 16-18.