The British Medical Journal has published the results of an observational study that aimed to assess the persistence of immunity to meningitis group C following routine vaccination. This study has been reported in the general media (BBC).
The study was conducted in secondary and tertiary educational institutions with 987 participants being healthy adolescents aged 11-20 years previously immunised between 6 and 15 years of age.
The study found that 84.1% had an antibody titre sufficient to demonstrate immunity. Antibody levels were significantly lower in participants who were 11-13 year old compared to those aged 14-16 and 17-20. Additionally, of the cohort who received only one brand of vaccine (70% of the study group) those vaccinated over the age of 10 had higher antibody levels than those vaccinated earlier in life.
The authors conclude that the results "support for adolescent immunisation programmes to generate sustained protection against serogroup C meningococcal disease".
Action: Clinicians should be aware of this variability in immunity to meningitis group C. The diagnosis of bacterial meningitis should not be discounted solely based on a satisfactory vaccination history.
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