The FDA just approved a new combination vaccine for routine use in infants and toddlers that can decrease the number of injections given down to just 2 at a time for infants at 2, 4 and 6 months. This is great news – we are all in favor of getting the same protection for our patients from fewer injections. Fewer shots=less pain (and hopefully less crying).
The new product is called Vaxelis (as I have said before, there is apparently no budget for catchy, meaningful, or simple names for new medications). It was co-developed by Merck and Sanofi, both of which make many vaccines for both children and adults. The new product can be used at 2, 4 and 6 months of age (as well as for catch-up vaccination) and will protect against Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Haemophilus influenza type B, Hepatitis B and Polio. There are already multiple combination products on the market but this is the first 6-in-1 combo to be approved for use in the U.S. A pediatric office using this vaccine will be able to give as few as 2 injections (Vaxelis and the Streptococcus pneumoniae vaccine called Prevnar) to infants at their 2, 4 and 6 month well visits.
The decision of whether to use a newly approved vaccine lies with both the local decision-makers for a particular pediatric office as well as with a state’s public health vaccination program (often run through the VFC, or Vaccines for Children Program). If an office gets its vaccines through a state’s VFC, it will usually purchase many or all of the same vaccines for use in patients who do not use the VFC program, to simplify vaccine ordering, record-keeping and storage.
Hooray for the FDA! Hopefully our government shutdown does not slow the decision-making at VFC on whether to include Vaxelis in their product line.