The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of Menactra in children as young as 9 months for the prevention of invasive meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroups A, C, Y and W-135.
Menactra already is approved for use in people aged 2 through 55 years.
An FDA news release says Neisseria meningitidis is a "leading cause of meningitis in young children. Even with appropriate antibiotics and intensive care, between 10 percent and 15 percent of people who develop meningococcal disease die from the infection. Another 10 percent to 20 percent suffer complications such as brain damage or loss of limb or hearing."
Although the rates of meningococcal disease are low in the United States, the FDA says infants and toddlers are more susceptible to getting this serious illness. "Meningococcal disease is particularly dangerous because it progresses rapidly and can cause death within hours. Early symptoms are often difficult to distinguish from influenza and other common illnesses."
Two bills currently in the Texas Legislature, Senate Bill 1107 and companion House Bill 1816, would expand current state law by requiring that any new or transfer student at a higher education institution must show they he or she has been vaccinated for bacterial meningitis. The bills were proposed because of the recent death from bacterial meningitis of a Texas college student who lived off campus. Both bills have been passed out of committee. Texas law from 2009 requires that only new students applying to live in on-campus housing be vaccinated.
Currently, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends meningococcal conjugate vaccine for children aged 11 or 12 and a booster at age 16, but says the vaccine can be given for certain high-risk groups as young as 2.
Existing Texas vaccine requirements require meningococcal vaccine for students entering seventh grade.
Action, May 2, 2011