FORT MYERS, FL – November 15, 2016 – In response to outbreaks of meningococcal disease on college campuses and the increased risk of infection among college-age populations, the National Meningitis Association (NMA) launched the Pledge2Prevent toolkit this week. The toolkit contains a variety of materials that will help student organizations, including fraternities and sororities, advocate for campus vaccine mandates and educate fellow students about meningococcal disease and its prevention.
Recent meningococcal disease outbreaks on U.S. college campuses, including University Wisconsin Madison, Santa Clara University, and Rutgers University illustrate the importance of vaccination against this devastating disease. Since these outbreaks, as well as most of the recent cases on college campuses, have primarily involved cases of serogroup B disease, the toolkit emphasizes that students should receive both the MenACWY and the MenB vaccines to be fully protected.
“Vaccination is the only way to protect yourself from meningococcal disease,” says Lynn Bozof, NMA President, “and everyone at increased risk needs to know that you need both kinds of vaccines to be best protected against the five major types of this disease.”
As part of the campaign, NMA included the stories of two advocates: Kolton Kreston, who survived serogroup B disease when he was a college junior, and Claudette Lewis, who lost her daughter Cherice to the disease when she was a sophomore.
“Fighting meningitis was the biggest obstacle I ever faced. The pain was so intense at times I didn’t want to live. I urge every student to learn more about meningitis and get both vaccines.” said Kolton, who now coaches wrestling at Northwestern College in Iowa.
The toolkit also features a video with more advocate stories. The video urges adolescents and young adults to talk to their doctors about both kinds of meningococcal vaccines.
Adolescents and young adults 16-23 years old are at increased risk of contracting meningococcal disease, which is fast moving and can be deadly or debilitating. Two vaccines offer protection against all five of the major strains of the disease: A, C, W, Y and B.
Other components of the toolkit include materials, such as a poster, fliers, an FAQ, and a sample petition, that can be used by members of the college community to educate others or advocate for change.
About meningococcal disease
Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial infection that most often leads to severe swelling of the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) or infection of the bloodstream (meningococcemia). Even with antibiotic treatment, 10 to 15 out of 100 people infected with meningococcal disease will die; about 11 to 19 out of every 100 survivors will have long-term disabilities, such as loss of limb(s), deafness, nervous system problems, or brain damage.
About the National Meningitis Association
The National Meningitis Association (NMA) works to protect families from the potentially devastating effects of meningococcal disease by educating the public, medical professionals and others about the disease and its prevention. The NMA network also provides critical emotional support for families who have been affected by meningococcal disease. Visit nmaus.org for more information.
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National Meningitis Association