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Delays urged on meningitis vaccine

/ Source: The Associated Press

Health officials are recommending doctors delay giving the fourth and final shot of a childhood meningitis vaccine because the vaccine is in short supply.

The shortage was attributed to production problems at the manufacturer, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that doctors should temporarily stop giving the fourth dose of Prevnar, also known as PCV7. The drug is expected to be in limited supply through July, the CDC said.

“From the evidence we have, there should not be any adverse effects from delaying the fourth dose,” CDC spokesman Curtis Allen said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Practice agreed with the CDC’s recommendation.

Prevnar is used to protect children against invasive pneumococcal disease, which can lead to meningitis or bloodstream infections.

Wyeth said a one-week production stoppage last year created a bottleneck that led to shipment delays.

All children should receive their fourth dose after supplies return to normal, the CDC said. But officials said high-risk children — such as those with sickle cell disease or chronic diseases — should receive the fourth dose now.