What Parents Need to Know NOW about Meningitis and College Students-Interview

What Parents Need to Know NOW about Meningitis and College Students-Interview


 In 2008, Jamie was a college freshman getting ready to complete her first semester and head home for the holidays when her life changed forever. In just 24 hours, she went from being a healthy college student to fighting for her life after contracting meningococcal disease, also known as meningitis.

Jamie spent seven months in the hospital, ultimately losing both of her legs below the knees, and all of her fingers due to the disease. While many colleges require MenACWY vaccination, MenB vaccination has only been available since 2014, and most colleges still do not require it.[i] 

She is sharing her story to ensure that parents are aware there are 2 different types of vaccines to help prevent meningitis – one for MenACWY, and one for MenB,[ii],[iii] to help other families avoid her experience.

During the pandemic, it’s more important than ever for parents to educate themselves and utilize the vaccines available to help protect their kids against vaccine-preventable diseases they may be at risk for, like meningitis.


  • Meningitis is an uncommon, but serious illness that can cause life-threatening complications or even death.[iv] Early symptoms of meningitis may be similar to those of the flu, but can progress quickly and can be fatal, sometimes within 24 hours.[v],[vi]
  • Up to 1 in 5 meningitis survivors suffer long-term consequences, such as brain damage, amputations, hearing loss, and nervous system problems.[vii] Among those who contract meningitis, 1 in 10 will die, despite treatment, sometimes in as little as 24 hours.7
  • Teens and young adults are at an increased risk for contracting meningitis because it can spread through certain common behaviors such as living in close quarters like college dorms, kissing, and sharing drinks, utensils, or smoking devices.4,[viii]
  • From 2011 through March 2019, meningitis B (MenB) caused all US college meningococcal outbreaks, which involved 13 campuses, 50 cases, and 2 deaths among an at-risk population of approximately 253,000 students.[ix]

Join me in a recent interview with Dr. Len Friedland, practicing physician, vaccine researcher, and Vice President and Director, Scientific Affairs and Public Health, Vaccines, GSK and Jamie Schanbaum, meningitis survivor, US Para-athlete and GSK spokesperson as they give parents insight regarding Meningitis B.

See the entire interview here:

For more information, go to https://www.meningitisb.com/


·  Even if your college-aged children are not attending in-person classes due to COVID-19 precautions, they may still be at risk for diseases like MenB.4

·  Your teen or young adult may have received MenACWY vaccination when they were younger, but most have not yet received MenB vaccination, which only became available in 2014.[x]  Recent CDC data shows that still, only about 1 in 5 17-year-olds in the US received at least one dose of MenB vaccination in 2019.12

·  Winter break is a good time to schedule a wellness visit and talk to your child’s doctor about the two different types of vaccines to help prevent meningococcal disease – one for MenACWY and one for MenB.2,3

For more information, visit www.meningitisB.com for more information and resources to bring to your child’s next wellness visit.


Dr. Len Friedland is a practicing physician, vaccine researcher, and Vice President and Director, Scientific Affairs and Public Health, Vaccines at GSK. Dr. Friedland has held many positions in clinical research and development with GSK since 2003, specializing in infectious disease vaccination. Prior to his work at GSK, Dr. Friedland was Division Chief, Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine.

Dr. Friedland studied medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and conducted his residency in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and his fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, also in Philadelphia. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, served as the Alternate Industry Representative to the FDA Vaccines and Related Biologics Product Advisory Committee, currently is a member of the FDA Allergenic Product Advisory Committee, and is currently the Industry Representative Member on the Department of Health and Human Services National Vaccine Advisory Committee.

He has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles as well as book chapters on healthcare and vaccination topics during his career. Dr. Friedland is involved in the development of vaccines for use in children, adolescents, adults, the elderly, and pregnancy; including vaccines for the prevention of flu, meningitis, whooping cough, rotavirus, hepatitis, measles, RSV and shingles.


GSK spokesperson Jamie Schanbaum was 20 years old and attending college in Texas when she contracted and survived the meningococcal disease. She went on to become a gold medal-winning US Para-athlete in cycling and meningitis advocate, founding The J.A.M.I.E. Group in 2009 to help raise awareness about the impact of meningitis and the importance of vaccination.

Though Jamie’s experience may not be the same as others’, she is passionate about sharing her story to help educate teens, young adults and their parents about meningitis and how they can help protect against this uncommon but potentially devastating disease through vaccination.

*Interview courtesy of GSK


[i] Vaccines and Preventable Diseases. Meningococcal Vaccination for Adolescents: Information for Healthcare Professionals. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mening/hcp/adolescent-vaccine.html. Reviewed July 26, 2019. Accessed November 2020.

[ii] Vaccine Information Statements (VISs): Meningococcal ACWY VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mening.html.  Updated August 2019. Accessed November 2020.

[iii] Vaccine Information Statements (VISs): Meningococcal B VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.  https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mening-serogroup.html. Updated August 2019. Accessed November 2020.

[iv] Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Chapter 8: Meningococcal Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/surv-manual/chpt08-mening.html. Reviewed December 2019. Accessed November 2020.

[v] Pelton SI. Meningococcal disease awareness: clinical and epidemiological factors affecting prevention and management in adolescents. J Adolesc Health. 2010;46:S9-S15

[vi] Meningococcal Disease: Signs and Symptoms. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/symptoms.html. Updated June 2017. Accessed November 2020.

[vii] Meningococcal Disease: Clinical Information. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.  https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/clinical-info.html. Reviewed May 31, 2019. Accessed November 2020.

[viii] Meningitis. Overview. Mayo Clinic website. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/meningitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350508. Updated October 1, 2020. Accessed November 2020.

[ix] Gary S Marshall, Amanda F Dempsey, Amit Srivastava, Raul E Isturiz, US College Students Are at Increased Risk for Serogroup B Meningococcal Disease, Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society,piz024, https://doi.org/10.1093/jpids/piz024

[x] National, Regional, State, and Selected Local Area Vaccination Coverage Among Adolescents Aged 13–17 Years — United States, 2018. MMWR. 2020; 69(33):1109-1116. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cynthia Tait

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