Health news roundup
New vaccine urged, ADHD drug questioned
Sunday, February 20, 2005
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging children aged 11-12 receive a new vaccine that protects against bacterial meningitis. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice also advised last month that the newly licensed vaccine Menactra should be taken by those entering high school and some college freshmen living in dorms.
“This is really a huge step forward,” says Dr. Nancy Rosenstein from the meningitis branch of the CDC. The vaccinations come at a critical point in adolescence, she says. The risk for meningococcal disease is highest for children under 2 (though there is no vaccine for this group) and then peaks again around ages 15-17. Taking the vaccine at 11 and 12 will ensure protection into adolescence. The vaccine will last at least eight years.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has added the vaccination to its list of recommended shots but it is not a required immunization at this time. In 2003, there were 73 cases of meningitis in Illinois and three deaths.
Signs of bacterial meningitis include flu-like symptoms, headache and a stiff neck.
The Canadian government stopped the sale of the Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder treatment drug, Adderall XR in February, citing several sudden deaths, heart-related deaths and strokes since 1994.
In a statement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it has made no changes in approved use or labeling of the drug. But, Canadian regulators and the FDA recommend patients consult their doctors about concerns.
“This [decision] really amps up our knowledge of the side effects,” says Lara Honos-Webb, clinical psychologist and author of The Gift of ADHD: How to Transform Your Child’s Problems into Strengths. She suggests parents ask doctors about alternative treatments. Meg Shreve