NEW YORK, April 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Actress and singer Tiffany Thornton, star of the Disney Channel's So Random, nearly lost her life to meningococcal disease as a teen, and is sharing her personal battle with the disease through the Voices of Meningitis initiative urging parents to vaccinate their preteen and teenage children.
As the new spokesperson, Thornton joins school nurses, parents, other survivors of the disease and health experts nationwide as part of Voices of Meningitis – a national awareness initiative of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur, that aims to increase awareness of this potentially deadly disease and urge parents to seek vaccination for preteens and teens.
"One day I was fine, the next day I was in the hospital fighting for my life – it happened so fast," said Thornton. "If my parents and I had known that teens are at greater risk for meningitis, I would've been vaccinated. Now I'm adding my 'voice' to this campaign to urge parents to talk to their child's school nurse or health-care provider about vaccination, to help them avoid what my parents and I went through."
Preteens and teens are at greater risk for meningococcal disease – a rare, but serious bacterial infection that can cause meningitis and take the life of an otherwise healthy child in just a single day. Vaccination is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for preteens and teens, yet nearly half of U.S. adolescents 11 to 17 years of age have not been immunized, leaving many unprotected against the disease.
School nurses across the country are leading the charge to educate parents about the need for vaccination. "We believe the power of voice and sharing of stories will provide families with the information needed to make informed decisions about meningococcal vaccination," said Sandi Delack, RN, MEd, NCSN, a school nurse for more than 20 years and the president of the NASN. "The role of the school nurse is to ensure the health and well-being of the students in their care. Promoting this important health message is a critical step toward fulfilling that responsibility."
About Tiffany Thornton
Tiffany Thornton, star of Disney Channel's So Random, contracted meningococcal meningitis as a teen. She went to sleep with what she thought was a migraine, but woke up in the early morning with immense pain throughout her entire body and very high fever. Initially, Tiffany was diagnosed with the flu. When her condition continued to worsen, she was taken to the hospital where, despite being given emergency treatment, she was told that she could potentially lose her limbs. Fortunately, Tiffany survived without any long lasting consequences. She is now lending her voice by serving as the national spokesperson for the Voices of Meningitis campaign to raise awareness about the importance of meningococcal vaccination for preteens and teens.
About Voices of Meningitis
Voices of Meningitis brings together the many "voices" of meningitis – celebrity spokesperson Tiffany Thornton, school nurses, parents whose children have been affected by the disease, survivors of meningococcal meningitis, and public health professionals – to raise awareness about the dangers of meningococcal meningitis and the importance of prevention for preteen and teenage children.
Voices of Meningitis offers educational materials for the public and health-care providers, as well as a public service campaign featuring school nurses, disease survivors, and families affected by meningitis. The campaign also features a comprehensive website, www.VoicesOfMeningitis.org, and the "Raise Your Voice Against Meningitis" page on Facebook, where visitors can hear the compelling stories of families that have been personally affected by meningitis and learn how they can raise their voices to help spread awareness about the importance of vaccination for preteens and teens.
Voices of Meningitis is a program of the National Association of School Nurses in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of the sanofi-aventis Group.
About Meningococcal Disease
Meningococcal disease is a serious infection that can cause meningitis (swelling of the brain or spinal cord) or meningococcemia (blood infection). The disease can be spread through common everyday activities, such as sharing drinking glasses, living in close quarters like dormitories or overnight summer camps, and kissing. Meningococcal disease can be hard to recognize, especially in its early stages, because symptoms are similar to those of more common viral illnesses. Unlike more common illnesses, the disease can progress quickly and may cause death or disability in just a single day. For survivors, one in five is left with serious medical problems, including amputation of limbs, brain damage, deafness and organ damage.
Meningococcal vaccination is recommended for preteens and teens. Parents should talk to their school nurse or health-care provider for more information.
Vaccines are available for people who wish to reduce their risk for contracting the disease.
About the National Association of School Nurses
The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) is a non-profit specialty nursing organization, organized in 1968 and incorporated in 1977, representing school nurses exclusively. NASN has over 15,000 members and 51 affiliates, including the District of Columbia and overseas. The mission of the NASN is "to improve the health and educational success of children and youth by developing and providing leadership to advance the school nursing practice."
For More Information
For more information about the Voices of Meningitis educational initiative, visit www.VoicesOfMeningitis.org. For information about the National Association of School Nurses, visit www.nasn.org or call 866-627-6767. For state specific information, select "Affiliate Organizations" under "QUICKLINKS" on the NASN homepage.
SOURCE National Association of School Nurses