Advocates call for infant meningitis vaccine

Colorado Meningitis Angels, its executive director and advocates for underserved and minority communities came together during a Monday press conference in Denver to recommend the infant meningitis vaccine.
The vaccine is being considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a part of the infant immunization schedule. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already approved one infant vaccine and may approve others in the coming months, the CDC is undecided about whether or not to add them to the routine infant immunization schedule.
"Thirty-five percent of the cases of meningococcal disease in this country are in infants," Frankie Milley, the founder and executive director of Meningitis Angels, said. "We have to move forward. We've done the right thing for adolescents. We've done the right thing for young adults. It is time that we do the right thing for infants and children. A recommendation for a vaccine does not mean a mandate. It means that all children – regardless of their economic status, whether they have insurance or don't – have access to that vaccine. It means that all physicians are educated about that vaccine and its availability."
According to Meningitis Angels, a CDC recommendation would ensure that the federal government and insurance programs cover the shots for low income and traditionally underserved communities. The federal Vaccines for Children pays for around 60 percent of all shots given to children in the United States.
"The CDC's own report shows that meningitis occurs more often in minority communities and putting this vaccine on the routine infant schedule will help low-income and underserved families all across the country, from all backgrounds," Mario Lopez, the president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, said. "It will help state health departments with resources for educating parents who might otherwise not know about the disease, and will almost guarantee that the vaccine is covered by insurance companies."  
Seventy-eight percent of participants voted that the CDC should recommend adding the vaccine to the routine infant schedule.