As you begin your back-to-school checklist, don’t forget an important step—making sure your children are up-to-date on their vaccines, including the meningitis vaccine. This season, the Georgia Association of School Nurses (GASN) has joined more than 30 state and national health organizations across the country in support of the Voices of Meningitis “Boost Our Rates!” initiative, and is urging parents to get their preteen and teen children vaccinated before they return to school.
Georgia State Representative Amy Carter is a spokesperson for the campaign, having lost her brother to meningitis while he was in school more than 20 years ago. Preteens and teens are already at risk for meningitis, and common activities such as sharing utensils and water bottles, living in close quarters, and kissing can increase their risk of infection even more.
“I learned about meningitis the worst way possible when my brother Bubba died from meningitis while he was in high school,” said Rep. Carter. “By sharing my story, I hope that parents will help protect their children from this devastating disease by getting them vaccinated.”
Vaccination is the most effective way to help prevent meningitis, which may be rare but can kill an otherwise healthy child in just a single day. Currently, more than 36 percent of Georgia’s teens are unvaccinated and at greater risk for contracting the disease. Parents should speak with their child’s health care provider to learn more about the vaccine. Those who qualify can also have their children vaccinated for free or at low cost through the Vaccines for Children program.
For more information about Voices of Meningitis, visit www.VoicesOfMeningitis.org.