Olympic swimmer urges meningitis vaccinations for kids
Many parents carefully pack protective gear for summer sports, like helmets and kneepads.
But one thing parents might not think of is a vaccination for meningitis — even though it can spread in close quarters like sports teams, through passed water bottles or shared gym mats.
Twelve-time Olympic medalist Dara Torres is on a mission to amp up vaccination awareness, especially among parents of active children.
“It’s easier to contract something like that in shared space,” she explains.
Torres, who has a daughter, 7, and 13-year-old twins, got involved with the Get in the Game prevention campaign after finding out that meningitis can kill a healthy child in as little as 24 hours.
Another scary stat? The symptoms mimic the flu, causing many to assume it is a cold that will pass.
Parents should discuss a vaccination with their healthcare provider, Torres says, an easy option to ensure they avoid the “nasty” disease.
That’s what Baltimore native Rayna Dubose, 29, calls it – a rising basketball star, meningitis stripped her of her lifestyle by causing amputations to both legs and arms at 17.
One day, she was a college freshman who thought she had the flu. The next, she was waking up from a three-week coma in the hospital to distraught family members and news of amputations.
“As soon as my freshman year started, it came to a screeching halt,” she says. “It was devastating.”
Another survivor helping with the Voices of Meningitis awareness group, Jamie Schanbaum, 24, from Austin, wants parents to know that a vaccination could have averted her losing her fingers and legs.
“This could have been prevented,” she says. “No one should have to learn how to walk when you’re 20.”
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