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Meningitis Vaccine Seems to Work Like a Charm
Date:1/14/2009

he vaccine, known as Prevnar and made by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, is part of the standard vaccination recommendation for children in the United States ages 2 to 23 months, as well as for children 24 to 59 months old who are at high risk for pneumococcal disease.

Since the vaccine came out in 2000, there have been a number of studies reporting on its effect on meningitis and blood infections.

"This is the first to focus specifically on meningitis," Bennett said.

There was a 73.3 percent decrease in the incidence of PCV7 serotype (bacteria types covered by the vaccine) in all age groups. Researchers also found declines in antibiotic-resistant serotypes not specifically targeted by the vaccine.

"There were small increases in the rates of meningitis caused by serotypes that are not included in the vaccine," Bennett noted. The study reported a 60.5 percent increase in cases of meningitis types not protected by the vaccine, but Bennett said that "even a 60 percent increase in something that doesn't happen much has a small effect overall."

The increases were "outweighed by the overall decrease in disease," she said.

However, she continued, "it is something that we need to closely observe and that will be addressed with vaccines that cover more serotypes."

Prevnar was developed by researchers at the University of Rochester, who sold the technology to Wyeth, according to a university spokesman. Several authors of the study, including Bennett, have received funding from Wyeth and other pharmaceutical companies.

Cirillo described the study results as "very promising."

"This is a pretty significant finding, especially the large impacts the vaccine has on serotypes it covers," he said. "And within the serotypes that were covered, the efficacy was up to about 90 percent," referring to certain groups that showed the incidence of pneumococcal meningitis decreasing by almost 93 percent. That's a
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