The Lane County Public Health Department has released recommendations that outlines who should get the new Meningococcal B vaccine, which is currently being offered only to University of Oregon students and staff. Patients should be immunized if they are:
- At high risk for meningococcal infection: They have sickle cell disease, absent spleen, or certain immunodeficiences, such as complement deficiency
- University of Oregon students and staff who have a high exposure to students
Those who do not fall into either category will not be given the vaccine without a prescription from their doctor. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which sets immunization policy for our nation, notes that the decision to administer this vaccine depends on a range of factors that patients need to discuss with their doctor prior to getting the shot.
Why might the committee be limiting this vaccine, especially in a state like Oregon, where this terrible infection has caused so much heartache in the past? Because the vaccine has side effects that the ACIP believes warrants caution. Those side effects include: fever (6%), headache (57%), severe headache (19%), aches (41%), fatigue (64%), chills (30%), injection site pain (93%), injection site redness (20%), and swelling at the injection site (22%).
In my view, this recommendation to limit the use of this shot to only those at high risk demonstrates that the Centers for Disease Control, which is often criticized for its decisions, is doing it’s due diligence. I appreciate the caution and care taken to issue the guidelines for this life-saving vaccine.
If you have questions or concerns, talk with your doctor.