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JCVI adviser calls for meningitis C booster after study finds decline in immunity

A leading GP immunisation adviser to the Government has called for a new adolescent booster for meningitis C vaccination after new research found a steep decline in immunity through childhood among those receiving the vaccine.

Researchers took blood samples from 11 to 13-year-olds who had previously taken part in the Oxford Vaccine Group study, and been vaccinated against meningitis C in early childhood.

Meningitis C serum bactericidal antibody titre averaged 8.0 between the ages of three and a half to five, but by age 11.5 to 13.5 this had declined to 3.3. The percentage of children with titres over the threshold for protection declined from 38% to 15%.

The authors, whose study was published online by Clin Vaccine Immunol, concluded that antibodies waned rapidly following vaccination and continued to decline into adolescence, and called for the introduction of a booster.

Dr Ameneh Khatami, clinical research fellow at the University of Oxford's department of paediatrics, said: ‘Since nasopharyngeal colonisation in adolescents probably provides the major reservoir for MenC in the population, declining immunity in this cohort is of concern.

‘Sustaining high levels of antibody through booster vaccination in this cohort is likely necessary to avoid a resurgence of disease in the decade ahead.'

Dr Anthony Harnden, a GP in Wheatley, Oxfordshire and member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said: 'This data supports the introduction of a meningitis C booster into a new national adolescent immunisation schedule.'

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