A simple vaccine is available to protect patients from the devastating meningococcal disease, an aggressive bacterial infection. The majority of cases occur in individuals younger than 25 years although it can occur at any age, and the case fatality rate is an astonishing 10-15%. Of those patients who survive the disease, long-term consequences such as amputations occur in 11-19% of survivors including 28 year old Jamie Schanbaum of Austin.
Texas Senate Bill 819, also known as the Jamie Schanbaum Act, now requires meningococcal ACWY vaccination of college students. The act was passed in part due to a public awareness campaign backed by the JAMIE Group (Joint Advocacy for Meningococcal Information and Education) after Jamie survived rapidly developing meningococcal disease while she was a 20 year old student at U.T. Austin. Jamie’s illness was life-changing, resulting in amputations and months-long recovery. She now travels the country as an advocate, sharing her personal story with the hope of motivating others to talk with their healthcare professionals about vaccination. She is also a paralympian cyclist and won a gold medal in the 2011 US Paralympic cycling games.
Meningococcal disease is spread through exchange of respiratory and throat secretions in a person infected with Neisseria meningitides, and the resulting infection by be meningitis, bacteremia, or bacteremic pneumonia. Approximately 800-1200 cases occur annually in the U.S., but the incidence may decline with the continued use of preventive immunization.
Current recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) are to routinely immunize adolescents aged 11-18 years, with the first dose recommended at 11-12 years, and a booster dose given at age 16. Certain high risk individuals should also be immunized, including those travelling abroad to endemic areas, and those with a variety of medical conditions including asplenia, cochlear implants, HIV, organ transplants, and certain cancer patients. Texas Minimum Vaccine Requirements for school children now require one dose of meningococcal vaccine for children aged 11-12 entering the 7th grade.
Join Jamie Schanbaum and others in talking to your pharmacist or your physician about meningococcal immunization. It could save your life or that of your children or friends.
Angela Solis, Lead Pharmacist