Two moms come together to form the Meningitis B Action Project
The Meningitis B Action Project launched earlier this month with a cross-country campaign initiated by two mothers who each lost their young, healthy daughters to Meningitis B five years ago. The Project aims to provide parents and young adults with the information to proactively talk to their healthcare provider about Meningitis B and the vaccine available to help prevent it, and to encourage the medical and education community to inform patients and students about the availability of the Meningitis B vaccine.
“I lost my 17-year-old daughter Kimberly to Meningitis B in 2012, two years before Meningitis B vaccines became available in the U.S. When the doctor in the Emergency Room told me she suspected my daughter had bacterial meningitis, I told the doctor it wasn't possible because she had been vaccinated against meningitis,” shared Pattie Wukovits, a registered nurse. “But what I didn't know, and what so many parents still don't realize, is that there is a separate strain of meningococcal disease – MenB – that is not covered by the traditional, more widely-known meningitis vaccine.”
The Project is a joint initiative by Wukovits and Alicia Stillman who each lost their daughters to Meningitis B. High school senior Kimberly Coffey, 17, died a few days before her graduation. College sophomore Emily Stillman, 19, died just 36 hours after her first symptoms. While both had received the MenACWY vaccine, the MenB vaccine was not yet available to help protect them. In 2014, Wukovits and Stillman, an accountant, established their own foundations named after their daughters, The Kimberly Coffey Foundation and The Emily Stillman Foundation. Today, both mothers are joining forces to make sure other parents don’t needlessly suffer the same fate.
Meningococcal disease, one of the most common types of bacterial meningitis, is a life-threatening bacterial infection caused by five types of meningococcal bacteria – A, B, C, W and Y. It affects all ages, but is more common among 16-23 year olds. Meningitis B accounts for nearly 50% of all meningococcal disease cases among 17-22 year olds in the U.S., and 100% of all meningococcal disease outbreaks on college campuses in the U.S. since 2011. As many as 44 college campuses have reported cases of meningococcal disease since 2013.
Two separate vaccines, MenACWY and MenB, are necessary to be fully immunized against the disease. The MenACWY vaccine is recommended for 11-12 year olds, with a booster shot at 16. The MenB vaccine is suggested for 16-23 year olds, preferably at 16 through 18 years old, and only recently became available in the U.S. in late 2014. However, while most adolescents and young adults have received the MenACWY vaccine, few have received the MenB vaccine largely due to lack of awareness of its availability.
“If I didn’t know, I’m sure other people don’t know. I said to her that day, I’m going to figure this out. By educating both parents and students on Meningitis B, its symptoms, and the vaccine to help stop it, we have the ability to save other young people from this deadly, but preventable disease,” said Stillman.
As part of the Project, Wukovits and Stillman will travel the country to share their stories across communities, schools and college campuses. Educational resources and tools, including a full action kit, and educational brochure, posters, and shareable videos and graphics, are available for download on the Project’s website to help individuals and organizations spread the word.
“We realize that if we want everyone to hear this critical message about Meningitis B, we can’t do it alone. Through the Meningitis B Action Project, our hope is that we will be able to build an army of advocates to help us spread our message as broadly as possible,” said Wukovits.
Less than half of college students get a flu shot each year
Although most college students in the U.S. believe it is important to get an annual influenza vaccine, less than half (46%) say they typically get vaccinated, according to a new National Foundation for Infectious Diseases survey released earlier this month.
College students are at particularly high risk of getting, and spreading, flu because of frequent exposure to high-touch areas like common living spaces and classrooms, and participation in social activities. On U.S. college campuses, flu vaccination rates remain low, falling dramatically short of the 70% Healthy People 2020 target recommendation, NFID reported.
"As a healthcare community, we've long known that college students are profoundly under-vaccinated. This new research indicates that a combination of education and incentives may be an effective way to reach college students who have been apprehensive about vaccination in the past," stated Lisa Ipp, NFID board member. "We now plan to work with academic, health, advocacy and student leaders to share these insights and uncover additional best practices to drive improvements in flu immunization efforts on campuses."
College students would respond to incentives, however, the surey found, with 61% suggesting they would get a flu shot that was at a low cost or not cost to them. A similar number of students reported they would get the flu vaccine if there was free food or gift cards coupled with the vaccination.
Among students who do not typically receive a seasonal flu vaccine, the top reasons for not getting vaccinated include a mix of misperception, fear and skepticism. As many as 36% reported that they were healthy and wouldn't need it; 31% said they don't like needles; and 30% said they don't think the vaccine works. Additionally, nearly three in five students (59%) seem to think that the flu vaccine can cause the flu and 59% don't think it's likely they'll get the flu in the next 12 months.
Family and healthcare professionals all play an important role in flu-related decision-making. When it comes to flu vaccine decision-making, college students note they rely a lot on the advice of a parent/guardian or other family member (48%); healthcare professionals (44%); the student health center on their campus (24%); and friends/peers (20%).
In 2016, NFID convened a College Influenza Stakeholder Summit to discuss the challenges of increasing flu vaccination rates on college campuses. This survey serves as a next step in better understanding the attitudes of college students related to flu.
Lupin’s Safyral generic Tydemy gets FDA nod
The Food and Drug Administration has approved Mumbai-based Lupin’s Tydemy. The product is a generic version of Bayer’s Safyral (drospirenone, ethinyl estradiol, and levomefolate calcium tablets, 3 mg/0.03 mg/0.451 mg and levomefolate calcium tablets, 0.451 mg).
Tydemi is indicated as a contraceptive against pregnancy. The product had U.S. sales of approximately $22.9 million for the 12 months ended October 2017, according to data from IQVIA