FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2016

CDC discussing recommending meningitis vaccine for children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently held a meeting with parents to discuss whether to recommend that children be vaccinated against the rare, but often deadly, bacterial meningitis.

The New Hampshire meeting was the first of four scheduled this summer to gather information that might shape the decision-making process. The CDC heard from parents who were both for and against the vaccine, according to TheNewsTribune.com.

"We have not done this before for this kind of issue, so this is going to be a learning experience for CDC," Glen Nowak of the CDC’s immunization and respiratory diseases division said, TheNewsTribune.com reports.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a meningitis vaccine suitable for children as young as nine months, but insurance companies will be unlikely to cover the cost if the vaccine is not given the CDC’s recommendation.

Approximately 250 of the 1,000 annual cases of meningitis in the United States occur in children under the age of five, according to TheNewsTribune.com. About 30 of these children die as a result of the disease. A small percentage of the survivors suffer significant medical problems, including seizures, hearing loss and amputations.

According to an estimate by Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s meningitis and vaccine preventable diseases office, the vaccine would prevent about 75 of the 250 annual cases. She said there is a difficult balance between the vaccine’s cost in comparison to its effectiveness.

"It's hard to have a safe, effective vaccine available and not want to use it," Messonnier said, according to TheNewsTribune.com.