MONDAY, July 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Infants and children who are at risk of contracting meningitis because of specific health problems should be vaccinated against the infection, according to updated recommendations from the largest pediatrician group in the United States.
And routine vaccinations for the potentially deadly infection should continue for adolescents and college students, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.
In its first statement on meningococcal vaccines since 2011, the academy notes that three such vaccines are now licensed for use down into infancy. They are deemed appropriate for youngsters age 2 months and older with immune deficiencies, missing spleens, sickle cell disease or other higher infection risks. Other young children don't need the shots, the guidelines say.
Those same meningococcal vaccines and boosters, long recommended for children 11 and older, should continue to be given to those kids, the academy stated.
"We needed to have new recommendations so that pediatricians would understand how to use these vaccines in young infants and children, since they're now available," said guidelines author Dr. Michael Brady, associate medical director at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
"We're telling pediatricians that we don't feel it's necessary to give this vaccination routinely to young children," he added, "but for children with select risks, it's a good vaccine to give."
The updated meningococcal recommendations are published online July 28 in the journal Pediatrics.
Meningococcal disease is linked to a variety of infections, including meningitis and pneumonia. Meningitis, an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord, strikes between 800 and 1,200
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