In 1919, when describing an outbreak of 315 cases of meningococcal disease on his military base, Dr. William Herrick stated that despite immediate medical attention, “No other infection so quickly slays.” Even though significant advancements in critical care medicine have been made in the nearly 100 years since, there has been very little change in meningococcal disease fatality rates. Up to 15 percent or more of adolescents who get meningococcal disease die.
That may be just a statistic to some, but we must not forget that it represents real people and real loss. My son Evan died of meningococcal disease 17 years ago and through NMA I have met too many others who share my heartache.
Like Robbin who also lost her son, Thomas, who was just 19 years old. She says, “I knew something was strange because he was coming home for Christmas Eve and I hadn’t heard from him. That wasn’t like him. Instead, I got the call that he was in the hospital and that he was falling in and out of consciousness. That was 5 pm. Thomas died in my arms just eight hours later, at 1:02 am on Christmas Day.”
Or, Lucia who lost her sister Andrea, “Andrea was away at college. She called our parents because she had a high fever. She went to the ER but was sent home with a diagnosis of a viral infection. The next day she was found unconscious and was rushed back to the hospital, but it was too late.”
Because of these experiences, our mission is to spread the word about prevention so that no one else has to lose a loved one.
Teens need to be vaccinated against serogroups A, C, W and Y as recommended at age 11-12 and again at 16 and parents should to ask a healthcare provider about getting their teens the serogroup B vaccine. Don’t hesitate, #BVaccinated.
This post is part of the #BVaccinated series based on NMA’s report, Beyond the Science: Putting a Face on Meningococcal Disease. As national policy regarding serogroup B meningococcal vaccination is discussed and implemented, NMA urges all those involved to consider these perspectives. We believe that routinely vaccinating our children against this disease is the right thing to do.