My Thoughts on “Good intentions with serious consequences”

13 Jan

As a mom who lost her 20 year old college son to bacterial meningitis, I had mixed feelings when recently reading a news story about requiring meningitis vaccination for college-age students: Meningitis vaccine:  Good intentions with serious consequences. After reaching out to the journalist who wrote this, I thought I’d also post my response here for you to understand a parent’s perspective on this matter. Find my thoughts below and let me know your thoughts on this in the comments section.


As President of the National Meningitis Association, and more importantly, as a mom who lost her 20 year old college son to bacterial meningitis, I had mixed feelings when I read your story.

I didn’t know about the vaccine, or that the disease is potentially vaccine-preventable, and it cost me the life of my son.  This was 13 years ago, and awareness of meningitis is much higher now, mostly due to the work of our organization.  Looking back, I would have spent every penny I had to pay for that vaccine, had  I just known about it.

I think the colleges and universities need to come up with a policy that will allow students to attend while their names are on a waiting list for the lower cost vaccines, for those who qualify under Vaccines for Children or for state-assisted aid.  For most other families, health insurance will cover the cost of the vaccine.

Meningitis is a rare disease, but when it strikes, it is deadly.  When you’re in the hospital for 26 days, having had both arms and legs amputated, losing kidney and liver function, and having 10 hours of grand mal seizures, your parents don’t care if you’re an honor student, pre-med, and pitcher on your college baseball team.  All they are praying for is for you to recover.  That’s what this vaccine can potentially do – save lives, save heartache.

The families that worked to get this vaccine legislation passed are to be commended.  The Schanbaums work with our organization.  They are lucky, because Jamie survived.   The other family lost a son, and I am sure they feel as I do.  There is no getting over the loss of a child.

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