Professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Carol J. Baker, MD discussed with Stephen B. Black, MD, regarding protocols for administration of meningococcal conjugate vaccine ACYW-135 as part of regular infant immunization program at Pediatric Academic Societies
A Texas based researcher and professor of Pediatrics, Molecular Virology and Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston recent defended her position against an opposing position from prominent researcher Stephen B. Black, MD that U.S. infants are not at risk of meningococcal infections and, in lieu of cost of vaccination and difficulties that are encountered in the implementation of vaccination, it is not necessary to include meningococcal conjugate vaccine ACYW-135 in routine infant immunization programs. Dr. Baker provided statistics and data- based evidence to support her point at Pediatric Academic Societies –Annual meeting. Baker, however, advocated the use of meningococcal conjugate vaccine in babies who are at high risk of developing infection.
Who is at risk of developing meningococcal infections?
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices suggests that all the infants who have anatomical or functional asplenia or those who report persistent complement component pathway deficiencies are at risk of developing meningococcal infections when compared to normal healthy infants. A positive family history is very helpful in identification of early cases. Infant that are at risk of developing meningococcal infections and are thus likely candidates for conjugate vaccine includes:
– Asplenia in the setting of complex congenital heart disease
– Babies born with sickle cell disease (identified by neonatal screening programs). These babies are born with normal spleen but develop functional asplenia during early childhood.
The Advisory Committee identified that the US infant population at risk is small and thus it is easier to devise a functional and targeted vaccination policy to improve the outcomes.