Talking About Vaccines with Dr. Paul Offit: News Briefs – September 2016 – Meningococcus B Vaccine

In the short video that follows, Dr. Offit discusses the meningococcal B vaccine.


News Briefs — Meningococcus B Vaccine

Dr. Paul Offit: Hi, my name's Paul Offit and I'm talking to you today from the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. It's Tuesday, September the 6th, 2016.

What I thought I'd talk about today is a vaccine to prevent a bacteria called meningococcus serogroup B, or meningB. Now, meningococcus is a bacteria that causes a variety of different types of illnesses. It can cause sepsis, which is an overwhelming bloodstream infection where a child can be fine one moment and then dead, frankly, four to six hours later. It can cause pneumonia, and it can cause meningitis, which is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, which also can be fatal or result in permanent disability. So it's a serious infection.

Now, we already have a vaccine against four different types of meningococcus; those types are A, C, W and Y, and that's been around since 2005. It's recommended routinely for all adolescents between 11 to 13 years of age, and then a boost again later in adolescence.

But how about this new vaccine, the so-called MenB vaccine; is that worth getting? So, here's what I would say. If you look at the total number of people who will get meningococcus serogroup B or MenB infection in the United States in a year, it's about 55. And although it's distributed from childhood or young infancy to childhood to adolescence to young adulthood, most cases, which is to say about three-quarters of those cases, will occur between 16 and 25 years of age.

So, is it worth getting that vaccine? Is it worth preventing essentially two-thirds of the roughly 55 or so cases that occur in the United States every year? I think the answer to that question is yes. I mean the only downside of that vaccine is that, like any shot, it hurts. I mean, in theory, the insurance company should be covering this vaccine because the CDC gave this vaccine a so-called permissive recommendation, meaning you can use if you want.

There are two different types of meningococcal B vaccines, one is called Bexsero, the other is called Trumenba. And I think both are of value because you don't know who those 55 people are every year. And because you don't know, you have to immunize everyone. So, I think that then giving this vaccine routinely to the 16- and18-year-old makes sense, and certainly my children will be getting it. Thanks for your attention.

Related Centers and Programs: Vaccine Education Center