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Extra childhood vaccine needed

Older children may be in need of a booster vaccination after a report in the BMJ found those aged between 11 and 13 had inadequate protection against meningitis C.

In 1999-2000 the government ran a mass immunisation campaign vaccinating everyone under 18 against the disease. The number of cases dropped dramatically and since then the vaccine has been part of the routing infant immunisation programme.

However, studies have shown that the vaccine's effectiveness in infants drops considerably over time as the level of their antibodies fall. Research has also shown that this does not happen in older children - those aged between 9 and 12 - who are given the vaccine.

Researchers from the University of Oxford studied the antibody levels in blood samples from almost 1,000 adolescents aged 11-20 who were immunised as part of the 1999-2000 vaccination campaign.

They found that more than one in five - "a significant minority" - of those aged between 11 and 13 have inadequate protection against meningitis C, and a booster dose of vaccine may be needed to sustain protection against meningitis C amongst teenagers.

One possible cause is maturation of the immune system at around the age of ten, the researchers added.

Meningitis UK

Related story: National immunisation programme continues to save lives

Is there a danger of complacency over meninigitis? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"Yes because some parents may assume that because their baby has beenvaccinated they are protected but are not aware there are other strainsof it." - Teresa Hooper, Practice Nurse