Leading Medical and Public Health Organizations Join the Immunization Action Coalition in Urging Healthcare Professionals to Improve Second Dose Meningococcal Meningitis Vaccination Rates

Despite CDC recommendations, fewer than 30% of teens have received the second vaccination needed for completing protection against meningococcal meningitis; national call to action for healthcare professionals to improve this statistic.

Read the “Dear Colleague” letter.

St. Paul – November 11, 2015—The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American College Health Association (ACHA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) and Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM), have issued a joint call-to-action urging health care professionals to strongly recommend and administer the second (booster) dose of meningococcal ACWY vaccine (MenACWY or “MCV4”) at age 16.

According to CDC, the meningococcal meningitis booster vaccination rate is an estimated 28.5% for eligible teens, an alarming statistic, compared to 79.3% for the primary dose.1 CDC strongly recommends a booster dose at age 16, after an initial vaccination at age 11 or 12, because protection wanes in most teens within five years after the primary vaccination.2 By vaccinating fewer than 1 in 3 eligible teens, we are leaving millions of young adults without the protection they need against potentially deadly and crippling meningococcal disease.3

“A clinician’s endorsement of immunization has long been recognized as a key factor in improving immunization rates,” said Anne Schuchat, MD, principal deputy director of CDC. Teens are at an increased risk of meningococcal meningitis due to common everyday activities such as sharing utensils and water bottles, and kissing.4,5,6 Meningococcal meningitis has a 10–15% fatality rate and cases have occurred in which an otherwise healthy young person will contract the illness, become severely sick, and die in as little as 24 hours after the first symptoms appear.

To further help improve meningococcal meningitis immunization rates, IAC has developed several meningococcal resources.

“IAC believes that we need to help encourage health care professionals to learn about their second dose MCV4 coverage rate and to provide them with helpful tools to increase rates,” said Deborah Wexler, MD, executive director of IAC. “Unfortunately, many parents are not aware that they are not fully protecting their teens—they simply do not know that a second (booster) dose of MCV4 is recommended, and they often rely on their provider to track their teen’s immunization schedule.”

Healthcare professionals can visit Give2MCV4.org to download free educational materials and tools, including fact sheets, talking points, an overview of adolescent immunization recommendations, Q&As, and other useful resources.

About the Immunization Action Coalition

The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) works to increase immunization rates and prevent disease by creating and distributing educational materials for health professionals and the public that enhance the delivery of safe and effective immunization services. IAC also facilitates communication about the safety, efficacy, and use of vaccines within the broad immunization community of patients, parents, healthcare organizations, and government health agencies.

  1. References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). National, Regional, State, and Selected Local Area Vaccination Coverage Among Adolescents Aged 13–17 Years — United States, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2015, from www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6429a3.htm.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011, January 28). Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Retrieved May 6, 2015, from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6003a3.htm.
  3. United States Census Bureau. (2013). Age and Sex Composition in the United States. Retrieved March 24, 2015, from census.gov/population/age/data/2012comp.html.
  4. Stephens, D.S.; Greenwood, B.; Brandtzaeg, P. (2007). Epidemic Meningitis, Meningococcaemia, and Neisseria Meningitis. Lancet. 369 (9580), 2199.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012, March 15). Meningococcal Disease. About: Causes and Transmission. Retrieved May 7, 2013, from https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/causes-transmission.html.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, April 1). Meningococcal Disease Risk Factors. Retrieved March 13, 2015, from https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/risk-factors.html.

This page was updated on .