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FDA Approves Meningitis Vaccine For Infants

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NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) - A new combination vaccine that protects infants from two deadly infections that can cause meningitis, meningococcal disease and Hib disease, was approved Thursday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The vaccine, called Menhibrix, has been approved for children ages 6 weeks through 18 months old. It’s given as a four-dose series at 2, 4, 6 and 12 through 15 months of age, and the first dose may be given as early as 6 weeks of age. It is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.

Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitides, and is most commonly diagnosed among infants, adolescents and young adults. A common outcome of the infection is meningitis, a life-threatening infection of the covering that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. About 1,000 causes of meningococcal disease occur each year.

The bacteria spreads through respiratory and throat secretions like spit, but aren’t as contagious as the common cold or flu. Infants with meningococcal meningitis may appear to be slow or inactive, irritable, vomiting or feeding poorly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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