National Consumers League

Consumer group re-issues pleas to CDC: add meningitis to routine vaccination schedule

June 24, 2015

Contact: Cindy Hoang, NCL Communications, (202) 207-2832, cindyh@nclnet.org

Atlanta, GA—Before an advisory committee of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today, the nation’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization urged the agency, for the second time this year, to add two government-approved vaccines to the routine schedule in order to fight the spread of meningitis “before more lives are needlessly lost to this devastating disease.”

In February 2015, Washington, DC-based National Consumers League (NCL) Executive Director Sally Greenberg, testified in support for the addition of serogroup B meningococcal, or MenB, vaccines to the routine schedule of vaccinations. At the meeting, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended the vaccine for groups at increased risk for the disease and established it would consider broader use of the vaccine, particularly for adolescents, at today’s meeting.

Today, Kamay Lafalaise, health policy associate for NCL, along with other advocacy groups and parents who have lost children to the disease, stood before the same committee with the same message: add serogroup B meningococcal, or MenB, vaccines to the routine schedule of vaccinations.

“We see no reason to expose anyone to this terrible illness when complete protection and prevention is available,” said Lafalaise. “Once again, NCL believes that parents and young people should have access to these two FDA-approved vaccines before a deadly outbreak occurs, and therefore both vaccines should be added to the routine schedule.”

The meeting of the CDC’s ACIP comes on the heels of news in New York that the NY State Legislature has passed a bill mandating a vaccine against meningitis for seventh graders. Under the bill, failure to comply with the required vaccination would subject the student to school exclusion. Elsewhere across the nation, mandated vaccinations are the subject of hot debate, such as in California, where state legislators have introduced a bill that would repeal the state's current "personal belief exemption,” including religious exemptions, making it among the nation’s toughest vaccine laws.

Lafalaise shared the results of NCL research that found widespread support among parents for vaccinations to protect their children from diseases. Furthermore, meningitis was found to be the disease parents were most concerned of out of all childhood diseases.

Meningococcal disease, which is sometimes called bacterial meningitis, can come on quickly and can lead to death or disability within hours. Meningococcal disease affects people of all ages, though adolescents and young adults are at increased risk. Serogroup B accounts for one-third of U.S. cases, and is the most common cause of disease in adolescents. From 2013 to 2015, four college campuses experienced outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease – two students have died, one student had both feet amputated.

 “If we wait, it could be too late. How many lives need to be lost before we take preventative action?” Lafalaise asked the committee.

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.