A federal advisory panel on Thursday endorsed two new combination vaccines designed to reduce the number of needle sticks that young children must endure to get the recommended immunizations.
The panel gave its nod to a four-in-one shot made by GlaxoSmithKline. It offers protection against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio and costs $45. It's given once to preschool-aged children.
Also getting approval was Sanofi Pasteur's five-in-one shot for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and illness due to Haemophilus influenzae type b, or HiB. It costs about $69. Youngsters get four doses by age 2.
Both combinations shots were recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The combo shots don't change the recommended vaccine schedule, just the number of needle jabs needed.
The vaccine advisory panel OK'd the shots for the federal Vaccines for Children program, which pays for vaccinations for about 36 million children who are covered by Medicaid, are uninsured or meet other eligibility guidelines.
The panel's recommendations are also considered influential with private health insurers.
The approval brings to six the number of multi-disease combination vaccines available to children.
Dr. Gregory Wallace, chief of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vaccine Supply and Assurance Branch, said he expects more combination vaccines to become available.
The availability of both combination vaccines and individual vaccines will likely cause confusion and storage issues at many doctor's offices, panel members acknowledged.