By Lori Buher
I have a confession to make. I was not a helmet mom. Twenty years ago, when our three children were small, I did not enforce the bicycle helmet rule. In my defense, we lived in a small town; dirt roads, light traffic, country life. I just didn’t see the need for helmets. Sure, accidents happen, but I didn’t believe one could happen to my kids. Fortunately, all three survived biking without helmets and I did not live to regret my casual parenting. That’s the thing. Too often we believe it won’t happen to us. Sure, there are dangers out there, but they happen to other people. We’re good parents. We follow the rules (most of the time). We practice good nutrition. We help them do their homework; we drive them to soccer practice. We are good parents. Unfortunately that is not enough. Bad things do happen to our children, even if we are good parents. In 2003, our youngest son, Carl became a victim of meningococcal disease. Sometimes called bacterial meningitis, this vaccine preventable disease can kill in 24 to 48 hours. Carl survived, but like most survivors suffered catastrophic injuries; losing both his legs below the knee, three of his fingers and the skin on his arms and legs. Six months in the hospital, eleven skin graft surgeries, years of healing and rehab and pain and suffering no one should have to endure; all from the effects of a vaccine preventable disease. So, I guess I would say this to parents: there are many things we can’t protect our children from in this life. Please, protect them from the dangers you can, like bicycle accidents and vaccine preventable diseases. Bad things do happen to good people.
Lori Buher is a board member of the National Meningitis Association. Find out more about NMA by visiting http://nmaus.org.
Last night I stopped at an office supply store to pick up a few items for work. The store was full of parents with their children, all with lists of supplies needed for school. Notebooks, pencils, pens, folders, sheet protectors – all of those were being scooped by parents. You could see the excitement in the kids’ faces as the shopping carts were filled up with brightly colored goodies.
I really wanted to peak at those “shopping lists,” to see if any vaccinations were listed on “what to get before you start school.” I only hope that those smiles I saw on the kids’ and parents’ faces aren’t turned to tears, if their child should contract a vaccine-preventable disease. For just pennies a day, you can protect the life of your child, and they can enjoy the school year as they were meant to, and you, as a parent, have the peace of mind that you have done everything possible to protect the life of your child.
It made me sad and happy to see the kids’ faces. Happy, because kids should always be smiling, and sad, for me, because I don’t have my child to smile with and enjoy special moments.
Make sure your children are up to date on all of their vaccines. Visit the National Meningitis Association at www.nmaus.org or www.preteenvaccines.org.
The National Meningitis Association works with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases to promote awareness of vaccines. As kids return to school it’s a great time to make sure our adolescents have all their vaccines. Among the most important vaccines are those recommended for the first time at age 11-12—Tdap, which protects against whooping cough; meningococcal, which protects against meningitis; and HPV, which protects against a cancer-causing virus. Adolescence is also the right time to check on immunization status for other important vaccines like MMR, hepatitis B, and chickenpox. The National Meningitis Association is proud to partner with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and other leading organizations to improve immunization rates among adolescents. We urge you to take some time to review our sister Website, preteenvaccines.org or the NFID’s recently updated website, Adolescentvaccination.org for the latest disease information and vaccine recommendations for adolescents.
Remember, no time is too soon to protect our children.
Mother and advocate Olga Pasick shares the story of meningococcal disease’s impact on her family in this moving account originally posted on Two Peds in a Pod:
I wish I had known the importance of vaccination for meningococcal disease before it was too late for my son. Back in September of 2004, David was a happy, healthy 13 year old, who came down with flu-like symptoms one evening. He first felt cold, then spiked a high fever, and vomited throughout the night. In the morning we called the pediatrician to have him seen. Everything ached, and he needed help getting dressed. That’s when I noticed purplish spots on his chest and arms. I didn’t know how serious that symptom was. As soon as the doctors saw him, they knew he had meningococcal disease. He was rushed to the ER for a spinal tap and treatment. Unfortunately, the disease spread quickly and his organs failed. David died within 24 hours of first developing those flu-like symptoms from a potentially vaccine-preventable disease. Unbelievable… and heartbreaking.
Read the full blog post here.