Singer and "Pretty Little Liars" Actress Lucy Hale Lends Her Voice to Voices of Meningitis™ to Help Improve Teen Booster Vaccination Rates
Despite CDC recommendations, fewer than 30% of teens received the second vaccination to help protect against meningococcal meningitis; new survey reveals potential reasons why
May 11, 2015
SILVER SPRING, Md. and SWIFTWATER, Pa., May 11, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Best known for her leading role on ABC Family's hit show "Pretty Little Liars," actress and singer Lucy Hale is lending her voice to the Voices of Meningitis™ public health initiative to educate moms and teens on how to help protect against meningococcal meningitis, including a second vaccination that millions of teens aren't receiving.1,2
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that a child receive one dose of meningococcal vaccine at age 11 or 12 years, followed by a second (or booster) vaccination as early as age 16, since protection from the first dose wanes after 3-5 years in approximately half of immunized teens.3 Yet data published by the CDC in 2014 showed that while 77.8% of teens 13-17 years of age received the first vaccination, only close to 30% received a booster dose.2 Therefore, millions of teens are under-vaccinated.1,2
Although rare, meningococcal disease is potentially life-threatening and can take a life in as little as 24 hours.4 The bacteria that cause meningococcal disease can be spread through everyday activities, such as kissing and sharing utensils and water bottles, putting teens at increased risk for contracting the disease and suffering its devastating consequences.5,6,7
"I joined Voices of Meningitis as an ambassador after learning that millions of teens, many who are my fans, are at a heightened risk of contracting meningococcal meningitis because they have not received the CDC recommended second dose,1,2" said Hale. "To think that, within a day, the disease can attack otherwise healthy teens,4 causing them to lose their hearing, limbs or, even worse, die8 — it's terrifying. I want to do anything I can to help moms protect their teens from what is a vaccine-preventable disease."
To effectively reach moms and teens with the important message about meningitis prevention, Voices of Meningitis, a collaboration between the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) and Sanofi Pasteur, has joined forces with Varsity Vocals, a national high school a cappella organization, for the "Boost the Volume" competition. The competition challenged local, high school singing groups across the country to "raise their own voices" and perform an inspirational a cappella medley of songs that will serve as a reminder to moms and teens about the importance of booster vaccination.
Today, Hale, one of the competition judges, will announce the finalists during a national media tour and through her social media channels. She will join the groups for hometown performances of their medley and will shoot a public service announcement (PSA) about meningitis prevention with the winning high school group this spring. As part of each community performance, Jamie Schanbaum, who survived meningococcal meningitis, will address the audience to raise awareness of the devastating consequences of the disease and stress the importance of parents asking their teen's healthcare provider for a booster vaccination. Attendees at all events will be able to speak to a nurse from NASN to learn more about disease symptoms and prevention.
To gain a better understanding of why teens and young adults are not receiving a booster dose, Voices of Meningitis recently commissioned a new online survey of healthcare providers who see 16-21 year olds for well-visits and mothers whose 16-21-year-old children received the first meningococcal vaccination but not the second vaccination. The survey found:
The online survey of 276 U.S. mothers, and 256 U.S. healthcare providers was conducted in March by Harris Poll on behalf of Voices of Meningitis.
"These survey findings underscore a huge vulnerability in our children's health as they get older," said Carolyn Duff, MS, RN, NCSN, President of NASN. "When children are young, parents are vigilant about vaccinating them against preventable diseases. Unfortunately, these same parents are not aware that they are not protecting their teens — as they simply do not know that a booster vaccination is needed to help protect their child against meningococcal meningitis. Parents should connect with their child's school nurse or other healthcare provider to make sure their teen receives the meningococcal meningitis booster dose."
Parents and teens can visit BoostTheVolume.com to learn more about meningococcal meningitis, hear stories from families who have been impacted by the disease, watch the winning medley performances and find educational materials and resources.
About the Survey
About Meningococcal Disease and Meningococcal Meningitis
Meningococcal disease can be difficult to diagnose, especially in its early stages, because symptoms are similar to those of common viral illnesses, such as the flu.9 More importantly, meningococcal disease is very serious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports fewer than 1,000 cases occur each year in the U.S.10 Although rare, meningococcal disease develops rapidly and can claim the life of an otherwise healthy individual in as little as one day after the first symptoms appear.4 Of those who survive, approximately one in five are left with serious medical problems, including amputated arms, legs, fingers or toes, neurologic damage, deafness and kidney damage.8
To help protect against meningococcal disease, the CDC recommends routine vaccination of adolescents aged 11 through 18 years with the meningococcal conjugate vaccination (a single dose of vaccine should be administered at age 11 or 12 years, with a booster dose as early as age 16 years for children who receive the first dose before age 16 years).3
About Voices of Meningitis
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers a broad range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company's heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: www.sanofipasteur.com or www.sanofipasteur.us
1. United States Census Bureau. (2013). Age and Sex Composition in the United States. Retrieved March 24, 2015, from census.gov/population/age/data/2012comp.html.
For further information: Sanofi Pasteur, Media Relations, Sean Clements, T. +1-570-957-0717, Sean.Clements@sanofipasteur.com, www.sanofipasteur.com