For some parents, thinking about getting their college-bound children’s vaccinations up-to-date may feel like an August to-do. However many vaccinations require more than one dose – including those for meningococcal disease – and a new survey of U.S. parents and college-aged young people suggests that parents should talk to their physician now about what they can do to help protect their children against the potentially deadly disease – before they return to school this fall.
Recent cases of meningococcal disease on U.S. college campuses have served as a reminder of the unpredictable nature of the disease. In 2015 alone, cases have been reported in college students at Providence College, the University of Oregon and Yale University.
What the Survey Found:
- Only one in ten parents (13%) believe their child would get all doses of a meningococcal disease vaccine on their own, without their parents’ presence or guidance.
- Less than half of parents say they have talked to their child about how the disease is spread (42%) or its early symptoms (38%).
- Less than half of young adults (49%) know that meningitis can lead to serious health complications, which may include hospitalization, hearing loss, or amputation. In addition, only 22% of young adults know that it is possible to die within 24 hours of early symptoms.
- The majority of U.S. parents (83%) report wanting their child to be vaccinated against all strains/serogroups of meningitis, but 88% don’t know which strains their child has been protected against.
Anne Geddes, best known for her photos of babies and motherhood, joined me recently to share her firsthand familiarity with devastation of meningococcal disease. She also discussed her role as a United Nations Shot@Life Ambassador, the awareness gap revealed by the survey and why she advocates for vaccination globally. Alongside her was Public health expert and licensed pediatrician Dr. Leonard Friedland.
Take a look at the interview below.
The above images are part of the Protecting Our Tomorrows: Portraits of Meningococcal Disease project by Anne Geddes. To see and learn more about the project, visit the website here.