The once normal lives of infants, children and teens who survive meningococcal disease are often filled with personal insecurities, dependency on others just dress, eat, use the rest room or do all the other daily things that we all take for granted. This is for the rest of their lives. Sometimes they are bullied, yes bullied. Sometimes they die.
As I sat through the October 23 CDC/ACIP hearings and listened to the committee discuss and vote to only recommend the life saving vaccine for use in high risk infants, my heart along with other parents broke.
What determines high risk, we all had to ask ourselves? None of us had what was deemed high risk children, yet we all suffer. I sat there and in my mind, in my heart, I watch my only child, Ryan die a grueling death all over again.
As I stood, to testify, with little 10 year old Jeremiah, from Oklahoma, at my side, his head only reaching the level of my knees due to the loss of his legs, a little boy who can’t care for himself due to the loss of his arms and who suffers the rejection and constant issues from the loss of his face I discussed in this first paragraph I had to reach down to him and ask the committee is this “cost effective”.
The father of one of those infants, from North Carolina, testified how his only son, a once perfect little baby boy was left with the loss of both legs, both arms and over half of his face. Today, five years later his life is filled with pain, constant surgeries and the realization that he is not like nor will he ever be like other kids.
A mom from California who came to testify became physically ill during the discussions and was unable to testify about her perfectly healthy baby going from a fever to her arms and legs being amputated, her little face falling off on her ICU pillow and finally watching her sweet baby die after 40 days in a hospital ICU.
All of us who make up Meningitis Angels from across the country know from personal experience how debilitating and deadly this vaccine preventable disease can be.
We live in a time of concern about wasteful government and personal spending. I say any money spent to protect our children from deadly preventable disease is not a waste. It is the most cost effective way to protect our present and our future. If children had a voice whether or not to receive a vaccine or contract a deadly debilitating disease I believe they would chose vaccine. However they don’t. We have to be that voice of science, reason, care, love, and most of all protection of healthy life. One child, my child, your child lost, is one too many.
We must protect our ALL our children form deadly vaccine preventable disease. It is NOT cost effective to let even one child suffer or die from a preventable disease.
What you should know:
When a vaccine is recommended by the CDC/ACIP, it does not become mandatory. That is done on a state by state public health or legislative policy. However it,
· insures factual education on the disease and the vaccines to prevent it,
· Guarantees accessibility to all children and financial assistance to informed parents who desire to give it to their children.