Broad Coalition of Advocates, Public Call on CDC to Recommend Infant Meningitis Vaccine
-- At Final CDC Regional Meeting, Pro-vaccine Community Presses CDC for Greater Use and Availability of Life-saving Vaccines --
DENVER, July 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Frankie Milley, Colorado Meningitis Angels and advocates for minority and underserved communities gathered during a press conference on Monday, July 25, in Denver, to add their voices to the widespread public and stakeholder support for infant meningitis vaccines being considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The press conference was held during the lunch break of the final of four CDC regional public meetings being held across the country to gather input about adding new meningitis vaccines to the infant immunization schedule.
While the FDA has already approved one infant meningitis vaccine and is expected to approve others in the coming months, the CDC is undecided about whether to add these life-saving vaccines to the routine infant immunization schedule. Such a recommendation is required to ensure that the federal government and insurance companies will cover shots for low-income and traditionally underserved communities. Currently, the federal Vaccines for Children Program pays for approximately 60 percent of all shots given to children in the U.S.
During the CDC meeting in Denver, 78% of participants voted that the CDC should recommend that meningitis vaccines be added to the routine infant schedule. This closely mirrored results from the Chicago meeting, held on July 21, where 86% of participants voted that meningitis immunizations should be routine.
To listen to a full audio file of the press conference, please visit http://protectinfantsnow.org/pin.mov
Participants' quotes from Monday's press conference:
Frankie Milley, Founder and Executive Director of Meningitis Angels:
"Thirty-five percent of the cases of meningococcal disease in this country are in infants. We have to move forward. We've done the right thing for adolescents. We've done the right thing for young adults. It is time that we do the right thing for infants and children."
"A recommendation for a vaccine does not mean a mandate. It means that all children – regardless of their economic status, whether they have insurance or don't – have access to that vaccine. It means that all physicians are educated about that vaccine and its availability."
"We have to remember that without recommendations, the Vaccines for Children program will not cover the vaccine and insurance companies do not cover it. It means that many – millions – of children will be left unprotected from this disease."
"We can never put a cost or price on a human life."
"No child, no infant, no adult should die from a vaccine-preventable disease in this country. Not ever."
"You're not just talking about percentages, cases, and economics. You are talking about human life. One life lost is too many."
Mario Lopez, President of Hispanic Leadership Fund:
"The CDC's own report shows that meningitis occurs more often in minority communities and putting this vaccine on the routine infant schedule will help low-income and underserved families all across the country, from all backgrounds. It will help state health departments with resources for educating parents who might otherwise not know about the disease, and will almost guarantee that the vaccine is covered by insurance companies."
"Without a routine recommendation, only a select few, the most affluent families will know about the disease and be able to have access to the vaccine. That is not an acceptable outcome."
"In plain English, this is a no-brainer. There's just no good reason why the CDC should not place this vaccine on the routine schedule."
Sherell Spoelma, sister of Sierra Krizman, who died from bacterial meningitis:
"I will do everything within my power to protect my kids and everyone that I know by encouraging them to get vaccinated."
Jen Stanton, whose infant daughter died of bacterial meningitis at 7 1/2 months old:
"I had to sit there and watch my baby die. Our family knows the devastation of meningitis. If you have the power, educate yourself. Educate your pediatrician on vaccines that could help save your children so that you don't have to go through what we've been through."
For facts on meningitis and information on how to get involved and encourage the CDC to protect infants from this deadly disease, please visit www.protectinfantsnow.org or check out the Protect Infants Now fan page on Facebook.
Meningitis Angels' mission is to educate the public, health professionals, child care facilities, schools and universities on meningitis and other vaccine-preventable diseases through personal stories, educational brochures, posters and videos.
For information on Meningitis Angels, please visit http://meningitis-angels.com.
SOURCE Meningitis Angels