Combination MMRV Vaccine No Longer Preferred

March 14, 2008

Due to the risk of febrile seizures, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer have a preference for the combination measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine over the MMR vaccine plus the varicella vaccine, according to a report in the March 14 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

FRIDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Due to the risk of febrile seizures, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer have a preference for the combination measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine over the MMR vaccine plus the varicella vaccine, according to a report in the March 14 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC notes that Merck, the maker of the MMRV vaccine (ProQuad), presented post-licensure information on the risk of febrile seizures to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on February 27, 2008. The vaccine had been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in children aged 12 months to 12 years on September 6, 2005.

Merck found a higher risk of febrile seizures between five days and 12 days after MMRV vaccination in children aged 1 to 5 years compared with children who received the MMR and varicella vaccines on the same visit (five per 10,000 compared with two per 10,000, relative risk 2.3), although this was not statistically significant.

The CDC notes that in 2007, the ACIP had indicated a preference for the MMRV vaccine compared with the MMR vaccine plus the varicella vaccine. "Given the availability of alternative options for vaccination against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella, and the limited supply of MMRV vaccine, ACIP voted to change the preference language for MMRV vaccine to read as follows: 'Combination MMRV vaccine is approved for use among healthy children aged 12 months to 12 years. MMRV vaccine is indicated for simultaneous vaccination against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella. ACIP does not express a preference for use of MMRV vaccine over separate injections of equivalent component vaccines (i.e., MMR vaccine and varicella vaccine),'" CDC officials write.

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