‘Meningococcal disease almost killed my healthy daughter’: One mother’s story

(BPT) - “I got the call every parent fears. My daughter, Jamie, was in the hospital and I needed to get there immediately. When I got to the hospital, Jamie was already in an induced coma — fighting to survive,” said GSK spokesperson and meningitis advocate Patsy Schanbaum.

Jamie had been diagnosed with meningococcal disease, also known as meningitis. To help stop the spread of the disease and to save Jamie's life doctors had to amputate both of her legs below the knee and all of her fingers.

“Telling the doctors to amputate Jamie’s limbs was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but it needed to be done to save her life,” Patsy said.

Early symptoms of meningitis may be similar to those of a cold or the flu. The disease can progress quickly and be fatal, sometimes within 24 hours.[1] Although it’s uncommon, one in ten of those who contract it will die, and one in five will suffer long-term consequences, such as loss of limbs, like Jamie.[2]

The decrease in immunization rates for vaccine-preventable diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic could impact the health of our communities, including schools and students living on college campuses.[3],[4] Adolescents and young adults are at an increased risk for meningitis due to close contact with each other, sharing drinks or eating utensils, kissing or coughing.[5],[6],[7]

Go to www.meningitisB.com to educate yourself about meningitis and the two different types of vaccines needed to help protect your teen against the five vaccine-preventable groups of meningitis — A, C, W, Y and B.[8]

“I am grateful my daughter survived meningitis, but others may not be as lucky as Jamie. As parents, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves about meningitis and more important than ever that we speak with our children’s doctors about adolescent vaccinations, like meningitis. It’s extremely important to utilize the vaccines we do have to help protect our kids against vaccine-preventable diseases amidst a pandemic.”

Vaccination may not protect all recipients. Content sponsored by GSK.



[1] CDC. Meningococcal Disease: Signs and Symptoms: Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/symptoms.html

[2] CDC. Meningococcal Disease: Clinical Information. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/clinical-info.html.

[3] CDC. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Routine Pediatric Vaccine Ordering and Administration — United States, 2020. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6919e2.htm?s_cid=mm6919e2_w.

[4] CDC. Vaccination Guidance During a Pandemic. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pandemic-guidance/index.html.

[5] Marshall GS, Dempsey AF, Srivastava, Isturiz RE. US college students are at increased risk for serogroup B meningococcal disease. JPIDS. 2019:1-4.

[6] CDC. Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Chapter 8: Meningococcal Disease. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/surv-manual/chpt08-mening.html.

[7] CDC. Meningococcal Disease: Causes and Spread to Others. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/causes-transmission.html.

[8] CDC. Meningococcal Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mening/public/index.html.

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