Meningococcal B Vaccine Tested During University Outbreak of Meningitis Interview with:

Nicole E. Basta, PhD MPhil Assistant Professor Division of Epidemiology and Community Health School of Public Health University of Minnesota

Dr. Nicole Basta

Nicole E. Basta, PhD MPhil
Assistant Professor
Division of Epidemiology and Community Health
School of Public Health
University of Minnesota What is the background for this study?

Response: Meningococcal disease is a serious and often life-threatening condition.

In the past several years, multiple outbreaks caused by meningococcal serogroup B (MenB) have occurred on college campuses in the US. Recently, a new meningococcal B vaccine known as 4CMenB or Bexsero was developed. The FDA granted special approval to use the vaccine to control an outbreak at a University in New Jersey prior to its licensure.

We took advantage of this unique opportunity to investigate the impact of Bexsero during the outbreak. In doing so, we conducted the first clinical study of Bexsero among teens and young adults in the US. What did you do?

Response: We investigated the impact of Bexsero by collecting blood samples from over 600 students during the course of the outbreak. Our primary aim was to evaluate immune responses elicited by the vaccine under real-world conditions. Specifically, we compared the immune responses of those students vaccinated with the recommended two doses of Bexsero to those students who chose to remain unvaccinated. We measured the immune response against three different MenB strains (two strains that matched the vaccine along with the strain that had caused the outbreak). What are the main findings?

Response: We found that all students who received two doses of Bexsero had evidence of an immune response against at least one of the MenB strains that matched the vaccine antigens.

However, we found that only 66% of fully vaccinated students had evidence of a robust immune response against the specific MenB strain that had caused the outbreak. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Preventing meningitis is a top public health priority. Adolescents and teens are at increased risk of this deadly disease, which can strike previously healthy individuals without warning. Now that Bexsero and another MenB vaccine, known as Trumenba, have been licensed in the US, adolescents, teens, and young adults should talk to their doctor about getting vaccinated and reducing their risk of meningococcal disease. It is important to remember that receiving a vaccine that induces an immune response in a majority of people, even if not all people have an immune response against every strain that causes disease, is far better than skipping vaccination altogether. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: As with any new vaccine, it is critical that we continue to conduct epidemiologic studies such as this one to more fully understand the impact of vaccine. Follow-up studies are needed to determine how long MenB vaccine-induced immunity persists and how broadly protective MenB vaccines are against the diverse variants that have been known to cause outbreaks.

Epidemiologic studies of vaccine impacts can contribute critical evidence needed to inform public health policy recommendations. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Immunogenicity of a Meningococcal B Vaccine during a
University Outbreak
Nicole E. Basta, Ph.D., Adel A.F. Mahmoud, M.D., Ph.D., Julian Wolfson, Ph.D., Alexander Ploss, Ph.D., Brigitte L. Heller, B.S., Sarah Hanna, A.B., Peter Johnsen, M.D., Robin Izzo, M.S., Bryan T. Grenfell, D.Phil., Jamie Findlow, Ph.D., Xilian Bai, Ph.D., and Ray Borrow, Ph.D.
N Engl J Med 2016; 375:220-228July 21, 2016DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1514866

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.
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