The Meningitis Angels, a nonprofit organization with members across the United States, recently requested that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) provide the public with two newly approved meningococcal B meningitis vaccines.
Approximately 2,600 Americans contract meningitis, a bacterial disease, each year. The illness is fatal for 10-15 percent of meningitis patients. Survivors can often experience brain damage, hearing and vision loss or require amputation.
Vaccines are readily available to treat four of the five strains of meningitis, but several American universities and colleges have recently experienced outbreaks of the fifth strain. After three deaths, the FDA rushed the approval for the fifth strain vaccine, but the vaccines will not be widely available until ACIP recommends the vaccines be part of the vaccination schedule.
Frankie Milley, founder and national executive director of Meningitis Angels, a group of young meningitis survivors, recently released a public service announcement to request ACIP make the new vaccine available.
Milley said everyone should receive complete vaccinations against meningitis when they enter middle school and leave high school. Milley and her husband lost their only son, Ryan Wayne Milley, to meningitis when he was 18 and founded Meningitis Angels in his memory.
Milley and other parents who have had children suffer or die from meningitis will testify at ACIP’s February hearing, encouraging the committee to make the vaccine public.
“I lost my son to meningitis and I don’t want to see another family lose a child unnecessarily,” Milley said. “My son’s meningitis was preventable then, and the disease is even more preventable now. We need to have every available weapon in our arsenal to fight meningitis and that means having access to the newest vaccinations.”