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Meningitis C Vaccine Booster Dose May Help Protect Teens

Childhood vaccination loses efficacy in teenagers

FRIDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- Despite the fact that meningitis C vaccination is part of the United Kingdom's routine infant vaccination program, one in five adolescents has insufficient protection from the disease and may need a booster shot to maintain immunity, according to a report published June 5 in BMJ Online First.

Matthew Snape, of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a study of 987 healthy adolescents aged 11 to 20 years, who were vaccinated against meningitis C between the ages of 6 and 15 years. Serum bactericidal antibody titers were measured five years after vaccination.

Only 84.1 percent of the subjects had serum bactericidal antibody titers of at least 1:8, and mean titers were significantly lower among 11- to 13-year-olds than among 14- to 20-year-olds, the researchers report. Immunization at or after the age of 10 was associated with higher mean titers than immunization at a younger age.

"On the basis of this study, we can be confident that this booster dose would maintain high concentrations of bactericidal antibodies through adolescence and into early adulthood, regardless of which serogroup C meningococcal vaccine is used," the authors write. "This should in turn provide protection not only to the vaccine recipients but also, through maintenance of herd immunity, to the younger children who have not received booster doses and among whom direct vaccine effectiveness is negligible."

Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostic funded the study, and several co-authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

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