The Ask2bSure campaign was launched by GSK to make sure parents are asking their pediatrician about the meningitis B vaccine for their teens. On May 12, I was invited to participate in a special event put on by The Moms. The event was sponsored by GSK and co-hosted by Soleil Moon Frye, actor, writer, director, and mother of four.
Soleil has become the spokesperson for this important topic, as her oldest daughter, Poet, is now eligible to receive this vaccine. She, like all moms, wants “to keep my kids healthy. And vaccines is one of the ways I can do that.”
This post is sponsored by The Moms.
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The Importance of Meningitis Awareness
Meningitis is a severe illness that can spread before medical attention can be given, which is why prevention is so important. Currently, there are 5 serotypes of meningitis that we can protect our children from, MenACWY and MenB. Most teens get their primary shot of MenACWY at age 11 and a booster at age 16-18. Still, many are unaware that there is a separate meningitis vaccine for the fifth serotype that became available in 2014. Meningitis B has been the cause of outbreaks on 13 college campuses between 2011 and 2019.
Many colleges requiring meningitis vaccines do not distinguish between the two different vaccines. Most Pediatric offices will administer this vaccine, but this could fall through the cracks as with many things. Especially if parents don’t realize more vaccines are needed before their children enter college. As parents, it’s always best to ask about all aspects of our children’s health to be their advocate.
As a pediatrician and a mom of teens, I was elated to be at this event and know that this campaign exists to get more awareness. We all want to protect our children as much as possible, especially as they leave for college. We heard two heartbreaking stories that tugged at every mom’s heart at the event. Jamie Schanbaum contracted meningitis as a college freshman. It started with flu-like symptoms and progressed within 24 hours. She spent seven months in the hospital and amputated her legs and fingers. She is now a Paralympic gold medalist in cycling; her story is one of triumph and survival.
Unfortunately, not all will survive this disease. In fact, 1 in 10 people will die from meningitis B. Patti Wukovits, a nurse and public health advocate, shared the story of her daughter Kimberly Coffey. Kimberly was in high school and still living at home when she contracted meningitis. As with Jamie, her symptoms progressed quickly, and not much could be done. Her parents had to make the awful decision to remove her from life support as there was too much damage done by the infection.
Patti has started the Kimberley Coffey foundation to help educate about the dangers of meningitis and get legislation passed to make the vaccine mandatory for college dorms. Kimberly wanted to be a nurse and help save lives; her mom is so beautifully continuing her legacy through this foundation.
The Ask2bSure Campaign
The Ask2bSure campaign highlights a critical and dangerous disease and the need for education around the importance of prevention. This campaign was created to promote awareness for parents, not realizing that there are two different vaccinations for meningitis, not just two shots (a significant distinction.) All parents should discuss this with their pediatrician before their children enter high school, know when different vaccines are due, and follow up.
More information on the campaign, the vaccine, and meningitis can be found at www.ask2bsure.com.