ACIP Makes New Tdap and Meningococcal Vaccine Recommendations

Neisseria meningitidis, copyright Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.Today’s blog post is by Andreas Bollmann, MD, PhD, FAAP, a Philadelphia-area pediatrician and History of Vaccines advisor.

As of October 24, 2012, the U.S. Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends to vaccinate all pregnant women against pertussis (whooping cough) with the Tdap vaccine regardless of whether they have had Tdap in the past. 

If that is not feasible, the vaccine should be given upon discharge from the hospital or birthing center. 

Giving the vaccine during pregnancy allows for the mother’s immune system to make antibodies, that then get transferred to the newborn body through the umbilical cord.

This can protect the infant during the time before he or she receives the first set of scheduled vaccines at two months of age.

The vaccine was previously recommended to be given to pregnant women who never had the Tdap vaccine, but it has now been determined that a single dose of Tdap vaccine is not enough to protect for additional pregnancies.

The ACIP also approved a combination vaccine against Haemophilus influenzae type b and Neisseria meningitidis serogroups C and Y for at-risk infants. 

This vaccine is different from the current meningococcal vaccines given to children ages 11 years and above.

Infants considered at-risk are those with recognized persistent complement pathway deficiencies or infants who have anatomic or functional asplenia. (The latter is, for example, the case in sickle cell disease.)

Infants at increased risk for meningococcal disease should be vaccinated at 2, 4, and 6 months, and again at 12 through 15 months with this vaccine generically known as HibMenCY.

CDC will publish the recommendations in an upcoming Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, making them official.