Many doctors skip meningococcal vaccine talks with teens

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“Among participants who “never” or “rarely” discussed the MenB vaccine, however, only 11 percent recommended it to their patients.”

August 20, 2018
Reuters

SUMMARY

Many pediatricians and family physicians don’t discuss the meningococcal B vaccine with teens even though these conversations are recommended to determine whether adolescents should get shots to protect against this lethal infection, a U.S. study suggests.

Just 51 percent of pediatricians and 31 percent of family physicians surveyed for the study said they “often” or “always” discussed the so-called MenB vaccine with teen patients. When they did discuss it, 91 percent of doctors recommended vaccination.

Among participants who “never” or “rarely” discussed the MenB vaccine, however, only 11 percent recommended it to their patients.

“Our survey shows that many providers have gaps in knowledge about Meningococcal type B disease and about MenB vaccine, and lack of knowledge appears to be associated with not discussing it with parents and patients,” said lead author Dr. Allison Kempe of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and Children’s Hospital in Aurora.

The trouble with MenB may be that it’s new, and that it’s not recommended as a routine vaccine like shots for many other childhood illnesses because there’s no long-term data yet on its safety and effectiveness, Kempe said by email. The older MenACWY vaccine covers four other strains of meningococcal disease, is recommended as a routine childhood vaccination and has been credited with helping to make meningococcal disease quite rare in the U.S.

The disease still kills about 10 to 15 percent of people who catch it, researchers note in Pediatrics. Many survivors have lasting impairments like neurological deficits, loss of limbs or digits and hearing loss.

Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial infection that can lead to bloodstream infections and severe swelling in the brain and spinal cord.

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Emma Harrison