Is one booster dose enough for teenagers who have been vaccinated against MenB as babies?
Meningitis Research Foundation funded researchers have published a study protocol to find out whether a single booster dose of the Meningococcal Group B (MenB) vaccine, Bexsero®, is sufficient to provide immunity to teenagers who received the vaccination as babies.
Beyond five years of age, teenagers are the age-group most affected by meningococcal disease, a deadly disease causing meningitis and/or septicaemia. Despite this, the MenB vaccine was not introduced for teenagers. One reason for this decision was cost.
Current evidence suggests that teenagers not previously vaccinated against MenB would need two doses of the vaccine to be protected. But over time, thanks to the infant programme, most children in the UK will have been vaccinated as babies. It is possible that when these children become teenagers, just one dose of the MenB vaccine would boost immunity enough to ensure protection.
This would greatly reduce the cost of a teenage MenB programme and provide the opportunity to re-evaluate its cost-effectiveness.
The babies involved in the first clinical trials of the MenB vaccine in infants, led by Oxford Vaccine Group, are now approaching adolescence. This unique group of children offers the first opportunity to investigate whether a single dose of MenB vaccine could successfully boost immunity.
This study will complement other published and ongoing research. Be on the Team is a national study involving 24,000 Year 12 UK students to understand whether immunising teenagers with vaccines against MenB could protect them and the rest of the community against these potentially deadly bacteria.
Other research with different age groups has found that previously immunised people did have a stronger immune response to a booster vaccine.
This study will further add to existing literature, by revealing whether there is a persistent immune response in teenagers 8-10 years after their infant vaccination.