Wow! What an amazing summer it has been! A lot of traveling and sharing my story across the country. It all began in New York where I attended the National Meningitis Association(NMA) Gala on GlaxoSmithKline’s behalf. I’ve been many times before, and always love going back to see familiar faces. When I got sick with meningitis back in 2008, NMA reached out to me and my family, and I am so glad that they did because I was able to realize that I was not alone. Through the NMA, I was able to meet so many other survivors and also parents without their survivors. Definitely bitter sweet but we were able to come together and discuss the importance of vaccinating against meningitis. Being back at the Gala, the discussion was similar but even more strong than before. Doctors, survivors and families, pharmaceutical reps and many more supporters were there all hoping to give kids a shot to protect themselves from meningitis. Of course, the Gala was exquisite with excellent food, wonderful people, and entertaining music. I love attending and I look forward to the following year. To support the NMA please check out their page or website at NMAUS.org. They have really done so much for the community and I am very proud to be a part of theirs.
The summer proceeded with more awareness of meningitis through speaking to different audiences, through media such as journalism, TV interviews, radio, or public speaking. I found myself in Los Angeles, Savannah, Atlanta, Denver, Nashville, and also all over central Texas. With another summer coming to an end, I always find it important to share the fact that college students are at a greater risk of catching the disease and in order to make sure you have a safe time without meningitis, please make sure you speak to your doctor about the two different vaccines that work together to fight against the 5 main serogroups of meningitis. I don’t want anyone to go through what I did. What I experienced was a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. Luckily, I survived. 1 out of 10 who catch this disease will die, and out of those who survive, 1 out of 5 will have long term consequences (Blindness, deafness, internal organ failures, amputations, scarring). I am part of that statistic. I survived and now live life as an amputee. I got sick while I was thriving at school here in Austin at the University, and by the time the school year was ending, I was learning how to walk with prosthetics. Make sure your child, or you as the student, are doing what they can to help protect themselves. Let me be the lesson for you, and make sure you get vaccinated.
Small lesson first on the vaccines that are available... The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) have recommended to help protect adolescents, teens, and young adults from Meningitis. Currently, there are two different types of vaccinations that work together to help protect against the 5-vaccine preventable serogroups of Meningitis (A, B, C, W, & Y). The first vaccine, that fights against A, C, W, & Y, is given at ages 11-12 and the booster vaccine is administered at ages 16-18. It’s important to note that the booster is just as essential as the primary dose, however, only 30% of those who have received their primary dose, have had their booster as well. Make sure to get the booster at ages 16-18 to fight against A, C, W & Y groups of Meningitis. While the first vaccination has been around since 2005, the second vaccine (Meningitis B) has only been around since late 2014. ACIP recommends that adolescents and young adults aged 16-23 years may be vaccinated with serogroup B meningococcal (MenB).
I want everyone to enjoy their lives and to feel invincible, so please talk to your doctor today about getting both vaccines to fight against meningitis.