“If we can save only one child’s life…” is a phrase frequently used to justify one initiative or another. It has been invoked in recent years to promote causes ranging from the installation of seatbelts in school buses to anti-alcohol campaigns directed at pre-teens. But when it comes to saving lives through certain infant vaccinations, public health officials seem not to grasp the concept.
Consider meningococcal disease, a rare but devastating bacteria-caused illness that primarily affects infants and children. Its elimination has been on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s list of priorities since 1999, but in early 2010, around the same time that a vaccine to prevent meningococcal disease in infants was submitted to the FDA for approval, the CDC began to show signs of retreating from its earlier resolve. Its motives are unclear.