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U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen to help families bring meningitis vaccine across the Canadian border

The U.S. FDA hasn’t approved the vaccine, even though it’s been approved in Canada and Europe.

U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, a Minnesota Republican, says he’ll join a group of Americans heading to Canada Sunday to bring back to the U.S. a meningitis vaccine that’s not legally available here.

The vaccine is sought by many families with college students because meningitis B outbreaks have hit some campuses.

The U.S. FDA has not approved the vaccine for sale in the U.S. but 34 other countries, including Canada and the entire European Union, have licensed its use.

Paulsen wrote about the problem in the Star Tribune last month, and has worked to get the FDA to speed up its approval of the vaccine.

Now he says he’ll accompany a group of students and parents traveling from Farmington Hills, Michigan, to Windsor, Ontario, on Sunday, where they’ll get the initial dose of the vaccine and then try to bring the second dose back across the border.

The trip is being organized by Alicia Stillman of Michigan, whose daughter died last year of meningitis while at college.

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Earlier this week, U.S. border agents detained three Michigan families who were trying to bring the vaccine back to this country, reports the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, although there were other recent cases where transport of the vaccine was allowed.

After the Michigan case was publicized, FDA officials said such detainment wouldn’t happen again.