What are the meningitis vaccines currently available?
- The Meningococcal C (Men C) Vaccine Available for several years, it is included in the vaccination calendar among the recommended vaccinations and has been introduced in the LEA (Essential Levels of Assistance), so it is free throughout the country. This has made it possible to vaccinate more and more children and to have a significant reduction in cases of meningitis C, with the result that serotype B is currently the most frequent in the country.
The National Vaccine Plan 2022-2022 provides for the administration of MenC to all children aged between 13 and 15 months, concurrently with the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) and to adolescents not previously immunized. It is also possible to anticipate vaccination, in subjects at higher risk, with three doses at 3, 5 and 11 months. If given before 12 months, 2 doses are required. For children over 12 months, adolescents and adults, a single dose is sufficient.
- The Meningococcal B (Men B) Vaccine It was introduced in 2022, which is why it is not yet included in the 2022-2022 vaccination plan and is not part of the LEA; in some regions it is paid, in others there is a ticket. The vaccine protects against almost 90 percent of meningococcal B strains and can be done from 2 months, even in conjunction with the other vaccines provided for in the first years of age. The administration of 4, 3 or 2 doses of the vaccine is foreseen, depending on the age. There is still no reliable data on the duration of protection, therefore in the future it may be necessary to introduce an additional dose at preschool age.
- Quadrivalent vaccine ACW135Y (Mcv4) Available recently and not included in the vaccination calendar, the tetravalent meningococcal vaccine A, C, W 135, Y is recommended in the country mainly for travelers who go to countries where these strains of Meningococcus are present and for those who want protection. greater, bearing in mind the frequent travel opportunities linked to globalization. It can be done from the age of 2 to children who have not yet undergone the MenC or to adolescents aged 12-16 as a reminder of the MenC and to complete the coverage.
For the moment, Men B and Mcv4 are not yet included in the vaccination calendar. "The replacement of the MenC vaccine with the quadrivalent Mcv4 vaccine and the inclusion of the meningococcal B vaccine in the new national vaccine prevention plan, scheduled for 2022, are still under discussion" says Silvia Declich, Director of the Department of Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases of the National Institute of Health.
"Safety and efficacy of these vaccines are good, but the opportunity to offer them free to the population has yet to be evaluated, considering at the same time both the benefits of vaccination (lower frequency of severe meningitis and meningococcal sepsis and the possible consequences) costs of that offer. In particular, for the introduction of the vaccine against meningococcus B, the need for different administrations (minimum 2) must also be considered, which would entail an organizational burden both for vaccination services and for families ".
Why is the meningitis C vaccine among the recommended vaccinations and not the mandatory ones?
“All vaccines included in the vaccination calendar are important and should be done both for the protection of the vaccinee and for the protection of those around him, since the higher the vaccination coverage, the lower the circulation of the disease. Newer vaccines are recommended rather than mandatory because the orientation has been to view the vaccine as an important protection opportunity for oneself and others rather than a formal obligation. In fact, the trend in recent years has been to overcome the obligation in favor of a conscious adherence to vaccination ".
What are the possible side effects of meningitis vaccines? The most common side effects of meningitis vaccines are redness, swelling, and pain at the injection site, lasting 1-2 days. Systemic reactions are rarer and include mild fever, drowsiness, headache, nausea, and general malaise, which resolve in 2-3 days. For the meningococcal B vaccine there is an increased finding of fever, which occurs in approximately 70-80% of cases.
As with any other vaccination, vaccines against meningococcus can cause allergic reactions of varying degrees up to anaphylactic shock, although these are extremely rare situations.
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