NEWS SCAN: Meningitis vaccine in young kids, National Prevention Strategy

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Jun 16, 2011

CDC holds public meeting on bacterial meningitis vaccine in young kids
In the first of four public meetings, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday heard arguments for and against a proposal to recommend a for bacterial meningitis vaccine for children younger than 11, according to the Associated Press (AP). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April approved Sanofi's Menactra meningitis vaccine for children as young as 9 months, but unless the CDC recommends the vaccine for the younger age-group, insurance companies are unlikely to reimburse the cost, according to the story. Children younger than 5 years old account for about 250 of the 1,000 annual US cases of bacterial meningitis, and about 30 of those children die, said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's meningitis and vaccine preventable diseases office. She said a vaccine would prevent about 75 of those cases, adding, "It's hard to have a safe, effective vaccine available and not want to use it." The first meeting was held in New Hampshire; the others are scheduled for Jul 12 in Seattle, Jul 21 in Chicago, and Jul 25 in Denver.
Apr 22 FDA approval notice

Obama administration announces National Prevention Strategy
The Obama administration today announced the country's first-ever National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy, a comprehensive plan to increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life, according to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) press release. One of the strategy's cornerstones includes vaccination against infectious diseases. "This National Prevention Strategy, called for under the Affordable Care Act, will help us transform our health care system away from a focus on sickness and disease to a focus on prevention and wellness," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in the release. The plan's four "strategic directions" are (1) building healthy and safe communities; (2) expanding quality preventive services in clinical and community settings, including immunizations and cancer screenings; (3) empowering people to make healthy choices; and (4) eliminating health disparities. According to a federal healthcare.gov fact sheet on the plan, it has seven priority areas: tobacco-free living, lowering drug and alcohol abuse, healthy eating, active living, reducing injuries and violence, reproductive and sexual health, and mental and emotional wellbeing.
Jun 16 HHS news release
healthcare.gov fact sheet
The announcement drew applause from public health organizations, including the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the nonprofit Trust for America's Health (TFAH). "Without prevention, we will never realize our full potential to become a healthy nation." said Executive Director Paul Jarris in an ASTHO press release today.
Jun 16 ASTHO press release
Jun 16 TFAH news release

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