It's a matter of supply not meeting demand when it comes to the newly recommended meningococcal meningitis vaccination for middle school-age pupils.
"It's not a real simple, unfortunately, kind of thing," said Dr. Karen Foushee, of Pediatric Partners in Evans. "The recently approved meningococcal meningitis vaccine is improved. It's a better vaccination that gives better protection for a longer period of time. But, unfortunately, it's in short supply."
The new vaccine, Menactra by Sanofi Pasteur, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in January. The following month, a government advisory panel urged federal health officials to recommend that the shot be given to certain age groups.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta recommends routine vaccination of young adolescents at the 11-to 12-year-old doctor's visit. The reason for the recommendation is the increase in meningitis cases.
"It's not bad at all around here," she said. Until last year, the cases in the Augusta area could be counted on one hand. "We're less concerned about our patients not getting this vaccination than we are some of the other vaccinations."
While Foushee and her colleagues will recommend that patients get the vaccination when the supply increases, right now they are reserving what shots they have for patients deemed at a greater risk for becoming infected. Those identified as at-risk include college students living in dormitories, military persons living in barracks and those who travel to the areas where meningitis outbreaks are not uncommon.
"We have had lots of parents who have asked about the vaccination, but once we tell them about our predicament, they completely understand," Foushee said. "We don't, by all means, feel like we are putting our middle-schoolers at risk."
The demand for Menactra is so high that it is expected the supply will not catch up for another three years. In that time period, the CDC hopes to make the vaccination routine for all adolescents.
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