PRINCETON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Princeton University officials have decided to give students a meningitis vaccine that hasn’t been approved in the U.S. in order to stop the spread of the disease.
The decision came Monday and the first doses are to be available next month.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved importing the vaccine, Bexsero, for possible use on Princeton’s campus in New Jersey. The vaccine is approved in Europe and Australia. It’s the only vaccine for use against the type B meningococcal bacteria.
Since March there have been a total of seven confirmed cases of the meningitis strain on the New Jersey campus, the most recent last week. No one has died.
As a result, the drug has been recommended for use on campus by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The potentially deadly disease can be easily spread through close contact among people, making college students who live in dorms especially vulnerable.
Under state law, anyone living in dorm rooms must have vaccinations against other strains of meningitis. The vaccinations, however, do not cover type B.
University officials are urging students to avoid spreading the disease by washing their hands, covering their mouths while coughing and making sure to not share items such as drinking glasses and eating utensils.
The vaccine will be made available for students who live in on-campus dorms, as well as some other members of the university community early next month. Two doses are required for maximum protection, the university said in a statement Monday evening.
The vaccine is not mandatory for students, and the university is covering the cost.
Bexsero is in the approval process in the U.S.
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