On October 29, 2014, a new vaccine against invasive meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B was licensed by the Food and Drug Administration. Previously, meningococcal vaccines licensed for use in the U.S. only covered four of the five main serogroups of bacteria that cause meningococcal disease: A, C, W and Y.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 500 cases of meningococcal disease were reported in the United States in 2012; of those, about 1 of every 3 were caused by serogroup B.
Meningococcal disease is scary because it can progress from initial symptoms to death in as little as 24 hours. Unfortunately, it is also challenging to distinguish from more common, less serious diseases during the early period of onset.
While all adolescents are currently recommended to receive the current meningococcal vaccines (either Menactra® or Menveo®), the new serogroup B vaccine, Trumenba®, offers an opportunity to protect against the type of meningococcal infection that was recently diagnosed on the campuses of Princeton University and University of California, Santa Barbara. The new vaccine is given as a shot in three doses with the second dose being given two months after the first and the third dose being given six months after the first. It is licensed for use in 10- to 25-year olds.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will make recommendations about the use of this vaccine in February 2015.