Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Vaccines Health Center

Font Size

Better Meningitis Vaccine for Infants

New Vaccine Would Extend Infant Protection to Multiple Meningitis Strains
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 8, 2008 -- A new meningitis vaccine protects infants against multiple strains of a meningitis bug, not just the single strain in the current infant vaccine.

The finding comes from a British/Canadian clinical trial that tested the new vaccine in 421 healthy infants.

Meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria -- or meningococcus -- is often deadly and frequently devastating. In the U.S., it strikes 1,400 to 2,800 people each year. Up to 14% of these people die; up to one in five survivors suffers brain damage, amputation, and/or hearing loss.

Infant s younger than 1 year are the most frequent victims, but disease incidence peaks again during the teen years. There's now a vaccine that protects against four strains of meningococcal bacteria. But it doesn't work well in infants, so it's recommended for use only after age 2 years.

A new vaccine from Novartis protects against four strains of the N. meningitidis bug, and it works in infants, report University of Oxford researchers Matthew D. Snape, MBBS, FRACP, and colleagues.

A three-dose schedule of vaccination at ages 2, 3, and 4 months offers at least 92% protection against all four meningitis strains contained in the vaccine. A 2-, 4-, and 6-month schedule that fits better with the U.S. child vaccination schedule was also highly effective. For both schedules, a booster shot at 12 months appears to be needed for extended protection.

Unfortunately, the new vaccine does not protect against the B serotype of meningococcal bacteria, which causes about a third of U.S. cases. So far, medical science has not been able to come up with a vaccine against meningococcus serotype B.

Even so, the study represents a "major advance in the vaccine prevention of meningococcal disease," says University of Pittsburgh infectious disease specialist Lee H. Harrison, MD, in an editorial accompanying the Snape study.

"The outlook for comprehensive global prevention of this devastating disease has never been better," Harrison writes.

The Snape study, and the Harrison editorial, appear in the Jan. 9/16 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Today on WebMD

Baby getting vaccinated
Is there a link? Get the facts.
syringes and graph illustration
Get a customized vaccine schedule.
baby getting a vaccine
Know the benefits and the risk
nurse holding syringe in front of girl
Should your child have it?

What To Know About The HPV Vaccine
24 Kid Illnesses Parents Should Know
Nausea and Vomiting Remedies Slideshow
Managing Immunization Schedules For Kids

Doctor administering vaccine to toddler
gloved hand holding syringe
infant receiving injection

WebMD Special Sections