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Back To Vidyya CDC Update: Encourage Education/Access To Meningococcal Vaccination Among College Students

Health Care Professionals Should Provide Information About Meningococcal Disease And The Availability Of A Vaccine

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 vaccine.

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 immunization.

"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 efforts."

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 of limbs.

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.

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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