Trimmel Gomes, Florida News Connection
August 14, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As Florida kids get their back-to-school health checkups, a new statewide coalition is calling on parents and policymakers to support what it calls “science-based” immunization policies.
Immunize Florida is a grassroots network of parents, health-care professionals and community leaders working to increase awareness of common childhood and adult diseases and the vaccinations that can prevent them.
In 2009, Cathy Mayfield lost her 18-year-old daughter to bacterial meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. She says she was so devastated over the loss – and how little she knew about the disease – that she joined the group “Moms on Meningitis,” to save others from similar pain.
“Not only the traumatic experience that we have been through because of her death, but just about the fact there are so many things out there that people aren’t aware of and ought to be that, in many cases, can have a very devastating disease [that could] have been preventable,” she says.
However, a growing number of Americans are concerned about vaccines’ overall safety. For instance, a parent may not know if their young child is part of a small percentage already immuno-compromised, for whom some vaccinations can cause serious side effects. So, it’s critical that parents do their research, ask questions and talk with their child’s doctor.
Mayfield says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a vaccination for bacterial meningitis at age 11, followed by a booster shot, but she notes that some people miss their booster shots.
“And right now, our statistics from the CDC are showing that only less than one-third of our young people are getting the recommended booster vaccination at 16,” she laments.
Meningitis is still rare – only 600 to 1,000 people contract it in the U.S. each year. But of those cases, it is fatal for 10 to 15 percent.