Did you know that common activities such as sharing water bottles and utensils can spread of the disease potentially fatal meningococcal disease? This can also potentially kill an otherwise healthy young person within 24 hours.
As fall sports season approaches, student athletes can be at greater risk of exposure to meningococcal disease, since many sports involve physical contact and equipment sharing. Participating in group practices, being in cramped locker rooms, and taking long bus trips can facilitate the spread of germs from person to person. And while moms can do all they can to protect their kids, there is one thing moms might be forgetting to guard their children against this disease.
To better understand this disease, we had the chance to learn more from Dara Torres, a 12-time Olympic medalist who spoke about Get in the Game, a national initiative powered by Voices of Meningitisto help educate and motivate parents to protect their kids and speak with their doctor about the meningococcal vaccination.
Momtrends: With back-to-school season starting soon what are some ways that parents can help protect their kids?
Dara Torres: As a mom, making the transition from the last days of summer to the start of a new school year is one of the busiest times for many families, including my own. When gearing up for the transition, the back-to-school checklist might seem endless, but there is one thing moms should not forget to do: make sure their child is up-to-date with all their vaccinations, especially meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is the result of a rare, but serious bacterial infection that can progress very rapidly and take the life of an otherwise healthy person in as little as one day after symptoms first appear.
Momtrends: What is the Get in the Game Campaign and why did you get involved?
Dara: The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) partnered with Sanofi Pasteur to launch Get in the Game: Keeping Teens Healthy. This national initiative is powered by Voices of Meningitis, an educational public health program and aims to help raise awareness about the serious consequences of meningococcal disease and motivate parents to speak with their children’s health care provider.
After hearing about the Voices of Meningitis public health program and the progress made by NASN in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur, I was pleased to join Get in the Game as a spokesperson. As a mom, I feel passionate about helping to protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases.
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Momtrends: Why are vaccinations so important during back-to-school time?
Dara: With school in session, kids may be getting less sleep; the resulting fatigue may raise the risk of meningococcal disease, possibly by weakening the immune system.
And as fall sports season approaches, student athletes can be at greater risk of exposure to meningococcal disease, since cramped locker rooms and long bus trips can increase the risk of exposure to the germs.
It’s important to keep in mind that other common, everyday activities, such as sharing water bottles and utensils, can also facilitate the spread of the disease.For more information on the disease, please visit www.facebook.com/VoicesofMeningitis.
Momtrends: What is meningococcal disease and how did you get involved with spreading the word?
Dara: While I am not a health care provider, from my partnership with NASN and Sanofi Pasteur onthe Get in the Game Campaign, I have learned that meningococcal disease is the result of a rare, but serious bacterial infection that can progress very rapidly and take the life of an otherwise healthy person in as little as one day after symptoms first appear. Symptoms that parents should watch out for could include stiff neck, fever, lethargy, sensitivity to light, irritability, headaches and vomiting.
Adolescents and young adults can be especially vulnerable to the disease; however, many parents aren’t aware that this disease is a threat or that there are vaccinations - recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - available to help prevent this disease.
When I was in college, a friend contracted meningitis and it was a scary experience for us and our parents. Now that I’m a parent, I want to make sure that I’m educated about the disease to protect my children and educate other parents who may not know to ask their child’s health care provider about the disease and vaccination. To help spread the word about this serious disease, I’m lending my voice to the campaign’s public service announcement, which you can view here. You can also go to www.facebook.com/VoicesofMeningitis for more information.
Momtrends: As a busy mom, how do you stay organized during back-to-school time?
Dara:Every year, it gets busier! But as a former Olympic athlete, I am very disciplined in everything I do, including crossing things off our family back-to-school checklist. No matter how busy or long the list gets, I make sure that my family makes the trip to our health care provider to ensure that our vaccination schedules are up-to-date – and that provides peace of mind. Thankfully, there are calendar and list apps – and the old-fashioned pencil and paper kind – that can help my family and me stay on track.
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