A significant change is likely in the routine schedule for meningitis C vaccination, following new recommendations from government advisors.
At present, the routine schedule is two doses at three and four months with a booster at 12 months. Adults under 25 are also offered the vaccine if they have not had it as a child.
However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has provisionally recommended that infants receive one dose less of serogroup C meningococcal vaccine. This dose should instead be given as a booster during adolescence.
The joint committee said evidence showed protection from the vaccine waned rapidly when it was given to children under six years old, while studies suggested antibody levels remained much higher for longer in those immunised from the age of 10 onwards.
It has therefore concluded that one of the infant doses should be withdrawn and given later in life. Moving one of the infant doses would mean the change was “cost-neutral” but would not diminish protection during the first year of life, it said.
The joint committee will now “consider the timing and implementation of an adolescent dose” to ensure that coverage is sufficiently high to maintain herd immunity.
A committee spokesman told Nursing Times: “The advice from JCVI is preliminary and further work is needed before final recommendations can be made to government.”
Cases of meningitis C have plummeted by 95% since the vaccination programme was first introduced in 1999, falling from around 1,000 a year to just a dozen.