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CDC Decides Against Meningitis Vaccine Recommendation; Parents React

The Short of It

The CDC voted against recommending that a new vaccine that immunizes teens against one strain of meningitis be mandatory. Parents who have lost a child to this fast acting and deadly strain argue the decision sends a confusing message about whether kids are fully vaccinated.

The Lowdown

Parents who have lost children to meningococcal disease and advocacy groups, like Meningitis Angels, urged the CDC to take the strongest action possible and place the serogroup B vaccine, called MemB, on the adolescent immunization schedule. It's estimated that the strain serogroup B protects against causes one third of meningococcal disease cases.

But the CDC committee voted to classify the vaccine, which was recently approved by the FDA, with a "permissive" recommendation, which means it's up to parents to decide if they want it for their kids between the ages of 16 and 23.

Currently, a quadvaccine that protects against four other strains of meningococcal disease—A, C, W-135 and Y—is fully recommended for kids ages 11 to 12. But if kids get the quadvaccine, they're still vulnerable to contracting the other strain MemB protects against.

Those disappointed by the decision say it's confusing for parents who won't be clear if their kids are fully protected. Others say a permissive recommendation is better than nothing.

Some think the decision is a result of concerns over costs and safety. The CDC committee pledged to monitor new information about MemB.

The Upshot

Parents in states like Vermont and California are actively fighting against mandatory vaccinations due to safety concerns. For them, the CDC ruling is likely a victory. With so many different passionate viewpoints, clearly this issue is far from settled.

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