Princeton can import meningitis vaccine not licensed in U.S.

Nov. 15, 2013 at 11:41 PM
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PRINCETON, N.J., Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Princeton University can import a vaccine not yet authorized for use in the United States to halt a meningitis outbreak, federal officials said Friday.

Seven students at the Ivy League institution in New Jersey have been diagnosed with the disease since March, NBC News reported. Health officials say the vaccine now used in the United States does not protect against the strain of meningitis B involved.

The vaccine Bexsero, which is effective against the strain, is licensed in Europe and Australia. Princeton's trustees are meeting this weekend and will decide whether to authorize vaccinations, Martin Mbugua, the university's director of medical relations, said.

"This is a bad disease and we know how devastating it is," Dr. Thomas Clark, who currently heads the Centers for Disease Control's meningitis and vaccine preventable diseases branch, told NBC. "A lot of us had a gut feeling that there would be more cases and we should get the ball rolling."

Meningitis kills more than 10 percent of young people who get it. But six of the Princeton students diagnosed with it survived it and the seventh, who became sick a few days ago, is expected to recover.

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