Unapproved Vaccine Administered at Princeton

Meningitis at Princeton leads to unapproved Novartis vaccination with CDC assistance

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Recent meningitis cases at two US Universities have put health officials on alert. This week, Princeton began administering an unapproved vaccine to help stop the spread of this illness.

There is no routine vaccine to prevent against the type of meningitis seen at the New Jersey university.

With approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the unapproved vaccine will be available to certain groups on the campus.

"Cough into a tissue to avoid the spread of illness."

As previously reported by dailyRx News, the type of meningococcal disease seen at Princeton (and across the country at the University of California, Santa Barbara) is called serogroup B — a form for which there is currently no approved vaccine in the US. Eight cases of serougroup B meningitis have been confirmed on the campus.

According to CDC, a vaccine that is approved for use in Europe, Canada and Australia will be administered at the university to prevent the further spread of illness.

Princeton University reported that the vaccine was made available starting Monday, December 9.

The university reported that the vaccine is only intended for certain groups, including all undergraduate students, graduate students who live in undergraduate dormitories and members of the University community with specific conditions that might put them at a greater risk. These conditions include spleen problems, like sickle cell disease, and certain immune deficiencies.

In an interview with CNN, Martin Mbugua, Princeton University spokesperson, said this will account for about 5,000 undergraduate students, 550 graduate students who live in the dorms and an estimated half dozen people with immune conditions.

The second dose of the vaccine will be administered in February.

According to CDC, Novartis, the company which produces the vaccine, has completed phase II clinical studies for the vaccine in the US, but the vaccine has not yet completed all steps necessary for approval in this country.

"After careful review of requirements for licensure, existing vaccination schedules, and feedback from public health experts, the company has decided to advance a meningococcal vaccine that helps protect against five serogroups (A, B, C, Y, and W) into late stage development," explained CDC. "The exact timeline for approval in the United States depends on many factors."

While the vaccine is being used at Princeton, the University also highlighted other measures that might help stop or slow the spread of illness.

"You can help prevent the spread of disease by increasing hygienic practices, and not sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, smoking materials and other items," Princeton stressed.

Review Date: 
December 9, 2013
Last Updated:
December 10, 2013