The American Association of Pediatrics has updated vaccine policy recommendations for meningococcal vaccines, advising a booster dose be given three years later, to bolster immunity against meningococcal illness among teens and young adults.
Meningococcal illness can cause meningitis, which is a painful swelling of the outer layer of the brain and spinal cord. Common symptoms include high fever, stiff neck, headache, nausea, vomiting, pain from looking at bright lights, confusion and fatigue.
The updated guidance, issued by the AAP committee on infectious diseases, makes their policy consistent with updated guidelines issued by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's published in the December issue of Pediatrics.
Since 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics began recommending that babies sleep on their backs, the number of deaths due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS - the number one cause of death among infants younger than 1 year of age - has been cut in half, according to the CDC.
However, as the number of SIDS deaths have gone down, pediatricians have seen a dramatic increase in babies having flat head syndrome. About 13% of healthy infants have some form of positional plagiocephaly (which means "oblique head" in Greek).
"[Babies] spend almost all their time on their back," says pediatrician Dr. James Laughlin, "that leads to some positional flattening or molding of the head, depending on how the baby sleeps."
The number of babies getting chickenpox has gone down dramatically since the vaccine was first introduced more than 15 years ago, according to new research published Monday. Infants under the age of one do not get a chickenpox vaccine because they are too young. But they are indirectly benefiting from those who do receive the drug, according to the study in the journal Pediatrics.
"By having those people who are recommended to be vaccinated, we decrease the amount of disease that's going around," said Adriana Lopez, study author and epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "That therefore decreases the exposures that people who aren't protected would come across."
Researchers looked at data from when the vaccine became available in 1995 until 2008. They found varicella, commonly known as chickenpox, decreased 90% in infants during this period. This very strongly suggests that vaccinating those who are old enough also protects those who cannot be inoculated, something health officials call community or "herd" immunity.
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