Molly Ringwald Joins Campaign for Meningitis Vaccine

Molly Ringwald, the star of a number of classics from the 80’s, is the spokesperson for the National Meningitis Foundation’s new 16 Vaccines campaign. The campaign focuses on the second dose of the meningitis vaccine, which acts as a booster and is given at age 16. In order for the first dose, which is administered around age 11 or 12, to be fully potent, it must be followed by the booster. Ringwald joins the rest of the National Meningitis Foundation in educating parents on the necessity of the vaccine.

About the Vaccine

The meningitis vaccine is estimated to be 80%-85% effective, and it offers protection for about five years. That’s why a booster shot is needed at 16 as it heightens the level of antibodies and provides another five years of immunity. As we are at the highest risk of meningitis throughout adolescence and young adulthood, this booster dose is absolutely necessary. Parents should take their children for their first dose around age 11 to 12, and then back again after their 16th birthday.

Leslie’s Story

Leslie Maier, a board member of the National Meningitis Foundation, shares her story to demonstrate the importance of the second dose of the vaccine. She lost her son to meningococcal meningitis about fifteen years ago. When her son, Chris, was 17, he contracted the infection.

He initially complained of symptoms consistent with a cold, which he and his parents dismissed as he went about his daily routine. These symptoms stayed with him throughout the day, worsening as time passed. His soccer coach even sent him home from practice, and his symptoms were now more similar to those of the flu.

Agreeing that they would take him to the doctor in the morning, the Maier family went to bed. When his father went to check on him in the morning to see if he was ready for his doctor’s appointment, Chris told his dad that he couldn’t feel his feet. Soon after, he was unconscious. The paramedics arrived, but Chris passed away soon after.

Now, Leslie tells this story to educate other parents on the importance of the meningitis vaccine. While it was not yet approved when Chris was growing up, she believes that it would have saved his life. She doesn’t want any other parents to go through the same pain.

About Meningitis

Meningitis occurs when the fluid and membranes around the brain and spinal cord become inflamed. It is the result of an infection, typically viral, although bacterial, parasitic, and fungal infections can also be the cause. Regardless of the type of infection, it causes symptoms that can appear within a few hours or a few days. These include light sensitivity, seizures, high fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, sleepiness, issues with concentration, confusion, skin rash, and a lack of appetite/thirst. It’s integral to seek treatment, as meningitis can be fatal. It can also cause complications like seizures, issues with memory, shock, kidney failure, hearing loss, learning disabilities, gait problems, and brain damage.

Anyone can get meningitis, but those under the age of 20 live at a heightened risk, as do those who are pregnant, have skipped vaccinations, live in a community setting, and have compromised immune systems. In terms of treatment, it depends on the type of meningitis one has. For example, bacterial meningitis should immediately be treated with antibiotics, along with corticosteroids if it is necessary. If one has viral meningitis, doctors will recommend bed rest, high levels of fluids, and medications to reduce fever and treat pain. You can learn more about meningitis here.

Find the source article here.

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