UO encourages CDC to adopt broad recommendation for meningitis b vaccine

During a June 24 meeting, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will consider whether to adopt a broad, routine recommendation for immunization of adolescent and college-age students against the serogroup B meningococcal disease. 

The vaccine is currently approved for use in outbreak situations, but it is not currently approved for general vaccination use. The current meningitis vaccinations in general use do not protect against meningitis B, the strain against which this vaccine is designed to inoculate and that is most prevalent in the Pacific Northwest.  The current limitation of the vaccine to outbreak situations means that many private insurance companies and public health agencies will only cover the costs of the vaccine in an outbreak and it is difficult to access the vaccine even for those who will pay out of pocket.

In a letter to members of ACIP, the University of Oregon urged the group to approve general use of the vaccine to avoid more tragic outbreaks, to make students safer, and to remove financial barriers to students seeking the vaccine. Other universities and members of Congress, led by Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and US Senator Al Franken (D-MN),  have also communicated with ACIP to support approval of the vaccine for routine immunization of adolescents. The hearing will begin at 5:15 a.m. PT on Wednesday June 24 with the discussion occurring about 7:15 a.m. More information can be found including links to view the hearing available at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/meetings/meetings-info.html

A seventh case of meningitis was announced in the outbreak that impacted the University of Oregon campus, which impact six students and one parent, claiming the life of a student. The UO has worked collaboratively with the Oregon Health Authority, Lane County Public Health, and the CDC to address the outbreak.  

The Oregon congressional delegation, led by US Senator Ron Wyden, and Governor Kate Brown have supported UO’s efforts to respond to the outbreak by raising awareness of the outbreak situation for insurers and participating in public health announcements.