Incidence of the meningococcal infection in Lithuania is one of the highest in Europe. Specialists from Lithuania, experts from United Kingdom (Dr. Andrew Frederick Riordan and Dr. Andrew Earnshaw, Joint Committee for Vaccines and Immunization) and the World Health Organization (Dr. Ludmila Mosina, WHO Regional Office for Europe) have discussed issues related to prevention of this serious illness in the Centre for Communicable Diseases and AIDS.
The highest incidence of the meningococcal infection is reported in the group of infants and children aged 1-4 years, about half of the death cases occur in children under 5 years of age. Invasive meningococcal infection, type B is predominant in Lithuania.
"Experience of the colleagues from the United Kingdom proves that it is very important to evaluate cost effectiveness of inclusion of the vaccine against type B meningococcal infection into the Children's Prophylactic Vaccination Schedule in Lithuania. Discussions help to better assess the current challenges, to look at the situation in a different way, and to find solutions", - said Director of the Centre for Communicable Diseases and AIDS Prof. Dr. Saulius Caplinskas.
He emphasized the need to update methodological guidelines on the meningococcal infection for health professionals and to recall information about meningococcal disease to the parents and guardians.
Vaccination against meningococcal disease
• The vaccine against meningococcal infection type B pathogens was registered with the European Medicines Agency on 14th January 2013, so it is delivered to Lithuania.
• In 2016 13,467 children were vaccinated in Lithuania against meningococcal B infection, and during the first quarter of 2017 4506 children were vaccinated.
• This vaccine has been approved by the European Commission to vaccinate children from 2 months of age and older persons.
• The vaccine is not financed by state.
• Parents or guardians requesting to vaccinate their child or vaccinate themselves against meningococcal infection should contact their personal health care institution because only the family doctor or paediatrician can decide whether the child / adult can be vaccinated after evaluation of the child’s / adult’s health status.
National disease statistics
Meningococcal infection is dangerous for people of all ages, but it most commonly affects children under 5 years of age. In 2016, 75 cases of meningococcal infection were reported in Lithuania, including 7 deaths (4 children up to 5 years). This year (January-April), 39 persons contracted meningococcal infection, of whom four died (in 2016 during the same period 41 cases were registered).