Next week, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will meet to decide whether to recommend the bacterial meningitis vaccine to infants and children -- the population most at risk for contracting meningitis. Given how dangerous this disease is, there’s no excuse not to protect as many people as possible from bacterial meningitis.
No one knows this better than me. I contracted bacterial meningitis as a child, and while I escaped with my life, I lost all of my fingers and most of my feet, and spent months in the hospital. I don’t want any other children to have to experience something similar.
The symptoms of bacterial meningitis typically appear suddenly and resemble the flu, but bacterial meningitis is far more deadly: in some cases, it can kill within hours, and those who survive, like me, often suffer serious complications including lost limbs, brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities. It can be spread through casual contact, putting tight-knit communities and groups of people who live and interact in close quarters at greater risk.
Thankfully, a bacterial meningitis vaccine is available that is safe and effective. And there’s no reason not to make it available for children and infants.
We know that bacterial meningitis is dangerous, but we also know that it can be contained when the public health response is proactive and aggressive. Earlier this year, 16,000 people in NYC alone sought out a meningitis vaccine after a dangerous outbreak spread within the LGBT community. Since that aggressive vaccination campaign, no new cases of this deadly disease have been reported within the LGBT community.
It’s that type of strong will that we need right now from the Centers for Disease Control. That’s why I’m urging you to join with me and John Becker, who received the meningitis vaccine earlier this year amidst the public health scare, to call on the CDC to expand access to the vaccination by recommending it for children and infants.
Please sign this petition to urge the ACIP to add the bacterial meningitis vaccine to its list of recommended vaccines for infants and children.