Officials in the most populous U.S. state had sought permission
from the federal government to use the European vaccine, which
inoculates against a strain of the disease that has struck four
students at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The outbreak, which resulted in a student having his feet amputated,
is similar to the one that struck eight students at Princeton
University in New Jersey, where students won approval to use the
same foreign vaccine in the fall.
Bexsero, made by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG, is
the only vaccine to protect against serotype B of the meningococcal
bacteria, which can attack the nervous system as meningitis or cause
a deadly blood condition.
California health officials sought access to the vaccine for the
Santa Barbara students in December amid renewed concern about
meningococcal disease, which is highly contagious among people who
live in close quarters, such as college students.
Most strains of the bacteria can be controlled with a vaccine that
is widely available in the United States.
But Bexsero has not been submitted for approval for use in the
United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Students at Princeton began receiving that vaccine after the CDC
intervened on their behalf. But when the California outbreak was
announced, the CDC said it wanted to wait, in part to see if the
disease spread to more students.
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In a statement released to students, parents and employees on
Friday, officials at UC Santa Barbara said they would make the
vaccine available to students free of charge next month.
No additional cases have been reported at the university, health
director Dr. Mary Ferris said in the statement.
Novartis said in a statement that it would coordinate with the CDC,
the university and the California Department of Health to make
Bexsero available to the students.
The company said it had submitted to U.S. officials documentation
from its European studies to show that the vaccine was effective and
safe, and was working on a version for eventual use in the United
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; editing by Cynthia Johnston and
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