Texas Children's Hospital video drives home importance of meningitis law

HOUSTON - (July 31, 2012) - "If you don't get the vaccine for meningitis, you're literally putting yourself at risk to die," explains meningitis survivor Jamie Schanbaum in the Texas Children's Hospital video, "Facing Meningitis." Schanbaum, a University of Texas student who had both of her legs amputated after contracting meningitis as a college sophomore in 2008, partnered with Texas Children's to produce the video, which conveys the importance of young people receiving the meningococcal meningitis vaccine before going to college. (Watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2-U1S74OH0)

The video, which has attracted more than 6,700 views on YouTube since its posting on Nov. 30 2012, also features the parents of Nicolis Williams, a Texas AM University student who died in early 2011 from the disease during his junior year. In the video, Williams' father, Greg Williams, recalls "Nick, in a period of hours, went from a healthy, vibrant young man to being brain dead."

As the start of the fall 2012 semester approaches, doctors from Texas Children's explain that by featuring Schanbuam and Williams, they are hopeful that the video resonates with both college students and their parents, who may be unaware of the potentially life-threatening consequences of meningococcal meningitis.

"The good news is that meningococcal meningitis is vaccine preventable and that the vaccine is currently available at many primary care offices, retail pharmacies, public health departments and campus health clinics to make it easiest for the student," said Dr. Carol J. Baker, who is the executive director of the Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research at Texas Children's Hospital and a professor of pediatrics and of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine. "Even though there's a new law requiring incoming students to get the meningococcal vaccine, the goal of this video is to educate parents and students about the disease and the vaccine, and then persuade them to make the right choice. "

An infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord, meningitis is spread through respiratory and throat secretions transmitted from coughing and sneezing. The bacteria can also be spread through kissing and sharing beverages or cigarettes. Adolescents ages 16 to 21 have the highest rates of meningococcal meningitis and college students, particularly those who live on campus, have an increased risk of contracting meningococcal meningitis because of their close living arrangements and other social conditions.

"We know that one in seven college students who get meningitis will die. What makes the video impactful is that any student or parent can quickly see that it could happen to them," said Dr. Julie A. Boom, who is the director of infant and childhood immunization for the Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research and an associate professor of pediatrics for Baylor College of Medicine. "This video is a great tool for organizations, healthcare associations and vaccine advocates to use when educating the public about meningitis vaccination."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all adolescents ages 11 to 12 receive the meningococcal meningitis vaccine followed by a booster dose at age 16. Since the vaccine is effective for about five years, an adolescent receiving the first dose of the vaccine after turning 16 does not need an additional dose.

The "Facing Meningitis" video is part of an ongoing project where Texas Children's uses real life stories of families affected by vaccine-preventable diseases to communicate the importance of vaccines. Drs. Baker and Boom and colleague Rachel Cunningham are also co-authors of the Texas Children's book, "Vaccine-Preventable Disease: The Forgotten Story," which tells 20 true stories of families who were seriously impacted by infectious diseases that are now prevented by vaccines. With over 125,000 copies of the book distributed nationwide, pediatricians have found it to be a helpful tool when discussing the importance of vaccines with parents. More information on the book and the video can be found at www.vaccine.texaschildrens.org.

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.