The U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that health care professionals
provide information about meningococcal disease and the availability of a
vaccine to protect against this potentially deadly bacterial infection to
college freshmen living or planning to live in dormitories.
Initially recommended by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization
Practices (ACIP) in October 1999, the new policy, which was published today in
the Recommendation and Reports issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality
Weekly Report (MMWR), encourages physicians and other providers to serve as a
resource for information about the disease, including how to obtain the
College freshmen living in dormitories have been found to have a
moderately increased risk of infection relative to other persons their age.
Recent evidence has shown that the majority of cases in the college age group
are preventable with the meningococcal disease vaccine currently available in
the U.S. In addition to freshmen in dormitories, the CDC policy provides that
any college student wishing to reduce the risk of meningococcal disease can
consider vaccination. Approximately 150 colleges are now informing parents
and students about the risks of meningococcal disease and the benefits of
"The recommendation will help ensure that college students and their
parents are aware of this very serious disease and of the availability of a
safe, effective vaccine that can decrease their risk of getting the disease,"
said David J. Williams, president and chief operating officer of Aventis
Pasteur. "We are prepared to support physicians, medical organizations and
government and college health officials in their educational outreach
Caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, meningococcal disease
strikes about 3,000 Americans each year and is responsible for 300 deaths
annually. Among college students, there are 100 to 125 cases of meningococcal
disease annually, resulting in 5 to 15 deaths. Another 5 to 15 students
experience serious, permanent sequelae, such as deafness, brain damage or loss
Menomune is indicated for active immunization against invasive
meningococcal disease caused by serogroups A, C, Y and W-135. Menomune is not
indicated for immunization against serogroup B. Menomune is subcutaneously
administered in a single injection of 0.5 ml.