New meningococcal vaccination schedule recommended by CDC advisory committee

January 1, 2011

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for the CDC recommended a booster dose of vaccine for bacterial meningitis after reviewing recent evidence showing that a single dose of vaccine provides immunity for fewer than 5 years, a much shorter duration than previously believed.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for the CDC recommended a booster dose of vaccine for bacterial meningitis after reviewing recent evidence showing that a single dose of vaccine provides immunity for fewer than 5 years, a much shorter duration than previously believed. The age recommended for the booster dose is 16 (the first dose is offered at ages 11 to 12 years).

The previous recommendation called for vaccination at age 11 or 12 years (or 13 to 18 years if not previously vaccinated) and vaccination of previously unvaccinated college freshmen living in a dormitory. The belief had been that the vaccine provided immunity for at least 10 years. This recommendation was updated by ACIP in June 2009 to include revaccination of persons who are at prolonged increased risk.

The updated immunization recommendations expand meningococcal disease immunization to all adolescents aged 11 to 18 years at any health care visit. Previously, the CDC recommended meningococcal vaccination at the preadolescent visit.

The recommended primary vaccination for persons with prolonged increased risk of exposure is 1 dose, with a booster dose every 3 or 5 years, depending on the patient's age at the time of the primary series.

The National Meningitis Association supports ACIP's new recommendations.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccines and immunizations: Recommendations and guidelines: ACIP presentation slides. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/acip/slides-oct10.htm#mening/. Accessed January 6, 2011.