August is National Immunization Month in America and I am once again drawn back to a time when my fellow elementary classmates were lined up in the school gym or cafeteria and given our shots or our sugar cube with the polio vaccine. I think back before there were ACIP recommendations and/or mandates for middle school entry for adolescents for Varicella, Tdap, meningitis, HPV and other life saving vaccines. Mostly, I am drawn back to a time when my only child Ryan died from meningococcal meningitis long before these recommendations. Thus began my life long advocacy work to make sure all are protected from as many deadly debilitating disease necessary. We have made great strides in protecting our children form deadly vaccine preventable disease. The dedicated men and women of ACIP have worked hard to protect our kids. As organizations like Meningitis Angels, Every Child by Two, PKIDS, the Immunization Action Coalition, public heath departments and others partner together to insure all are educated on and protected from deadly diseases we find our work must not only continue but strengthen. We are at a great point in history. We are on the cusp of new vaccines to prevent meningococcal disease in infants. We must once again all stand together and make sure at the end of the day the vaccines are made accessible to the smallest and weakest of ours. We must stop this deadly disease that takes infant lives or leaves them debilitated. We must work for stronger education, recommendations , accessibility and research and development of new and better vaccines to stop disease not only in America but around the world. As parents shop for those back to school clothes to make their children look good, those school supplies to help them learn, I pray they will make the most important preparation, the one that will protect them form deadly diseases and make sure they are vaccinated. I also want to take a moment in this post to thank and congratulate Ms. Rosalyn Carter, Ms. Betty Bumpers and all of those at Every Child By Two for being leaders in this fight to save lives for over 20 years. You, Ms. Rosalyn and Ms. Bumpers are heroes. You wear big shoes for us to fill over the next 20 years. Frankie Milley Meningitis Angels, founder/national executive director Mom to Ryan, who died at age 18 from meningococcal disease.
Texas just became the first state in the country to immunize all first time college freshmen up to age 30 against meningococcal meningitis. A special gratitude to Angel Dad Greg Williams and his family for their work and leadership on this important law. There son Nicholas died under a law that only required those students living in dorms to be vaccinated. Angel Leslie, Angel Mom Joan and I had the honor to work on this important legislation with them. Meningitis does not stop at the dorm. Infants, children and teens are also at risk. Over the next months the CDC will be looking at this disease in infants and prevention. Learn more by visiting http://www.ProtecInfantsNow.org
My heart is very heavy this morning over a Texas A & M student who lived off campus and died from meningitis.
Last year when a Texas law was past that only required those students living on campus to be immunized over shadowed a law in existence since 2001. One we worked hard on.
This law required all college freshmen to be educated and most universities and junior colleges did so and required the student to read and sign a waiver of refusal. Some students did refuse and became ill but at least they were educated and had a choice.
Sadly, the new law does not give everyone that education or choice. The new law excludes approximately 75% of an at risk college freshmen population. Meningitis Does not Stop at the Doom. When my only child Ryan died, we had no laws and very little information. We help change that. However he would have still died under this law because he would have lived off campus when he started college on a date just a few months after his death. Instead he is buried with only a headstone to mark his life.
Within our national organization, 5 students who sought the vaccine and were told since they lived off campus they didn't need it, All DIED!!.2 are pictured here along with Ryan.
Please don't let your college student who lives off campus be blinded by this law. Make sure they are immunized. If your child's or your meningitis vaccine was taken more than 4-5 years ago speak to your health care provider about a booster. There are two vaccines now. They are Menveo and Menactra.
The law is not enough to stop the needless death and debilitation on college campuses. I call for immediate amendment to this law that would require all college freshmen to be immunized upon entry.
The light at the end of this tunnel is that Meningitis Angels led the advocacy and with our amazing Texas Health Department Immunization branch, Texas now requires all middle school students to be immunized upon entry and follow ACIP rules with a booster at 16 and again 5 years later. This will protect the in state college freshmen but not the out of state or the ones who are not educated on the disease and prevention.
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Meningitis Angels excepts no responsibility for any post herein. Nothing herein is to be taken as medical advice. If you think you are someone you know has meningitis treat it as a 911 emergency.
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