Goal is to raise awareness of spread of deadly disease on college campuses

(Upper Nyack, N.Y., March 2, 2015) Following the recent decision by a CDC Committee to offer only a limited recommendation for vaccines aimed at preventing the spread of the potentially deadly “B” strain of meningitis, Global Healthy Living Foundation has launched a new interactive website aimed at tracking cases of the disease at high schools and college campuses across the country.

Vaccine advocates like Global Healthy Living Ambassador Neal Raisman, PhD, a former college president, were in Atlanta last week to testify in front of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a sub-committee of the Centers for Disease Control to urge the committee to make a recommendation that two new vaccines recently approved by the Federal Drug Administration be made widely available to college students.   The new vaccines combat the “B” strain of meningitis.

ACIP determines what vaccines will be on the standard vaccination schedule.  The committee’s recommendation determines states action to add vaccines to their immunization schedule and means most insurers will offer coverage of the cost of the vaccines.  The committee decided to only recommend the new vaccines for high-risk populations, like those with autoimmune disease.

“We can’t leave our kids unprotected against this disease, it’s critical that we get these new vaccines to the broadest number of young people as possible,” said GHLF”s Neal Raisman.  “I lost my son to meningitis. No other family should have to face that same loss when we have a way to prevent the disease from spreading.  ACIP needs to act to help keep these kids safe from this awful disease.”

Families like the Raismans who have lost children to the deadly disease want the new vaccines to be added to the current vaccination recommendations for college-aged kids, who are more susceptible to meningitis because of the way it is spread—through close personal contact including dorm living.  Currently, a vaccine that covers four strains of the disease is recommended for college age kids and many states and colleges require the vaccination.

In the past few years, outbreaks of the “B” strains have been occurring at colleges across the country, including Princeton University, University of California at Santa Barbara, and Georgetown University.  In just the past several weeks, there have been cases of the disease at Providence College and Yale University and one student died of the disease at the University of Oregon in February.  The website will provide real time updates as incidents of meningitis occur on campuses across the country.

“In the past several months, we’ve seen individual cases of meningitis popping up at colleges and universities across the country, “said Louis Tharp—Executive Director of the Global Healthy Living Foundation.  “When you look at the cases individually, it’s easy to dismiss them.  Our goal with this website is to show a real-time view of the number of cases of this disease, the impact this disease is having on the high-school and college-aged population, and the urgent need for our kids to be immunized against this disease.”

About the Global Healthy Living Foundation:

The Global Healthy Living Foundation is a 501(c)(3) patient advocacy organization with the mission of improving people’s quality of life through education, awareness and advocacy. The GHLF, co-founded in 1999 by Spondyloarthropathy patient Seth Ginsberg and social entrepreneur Louis Tharp, has successfully mobilized and activated groups of patients across more than a dozen chronic disease states, acting as a convener of organizations to address local, state and federal issues.