DENVER (CBS4) – A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee is recommending new vaccines for adolescents and young adults to prevent a strain of meningitis. The strain, serogroup B, has caused several outbreaks on college campuses.
It wasn’t a ringing endorsement. Rather the panel approved a half-measure that says older teens and young adults may get the shots if they and their parents want to take that step.
For some parents it’s too late. Kimberly Coffey was just days away from high school graduation when she came down with what her mother thought was the flu. It turns out Coffey had meningitis. Within hours the 17-year-old was in the intensive care unit. Nine days later she died.
“I mean my heart is shattered. I lost my baby girl to a vaccine-preventable disease, but we did not have the vaccine,” Coffey’s mother Patti Wukovits said.
Current vaccines protect against several types of meningitis, but not the serogroup B strain that Coffey had. Now a CDC committee has voted to recommend using new vaccines to prevent this strain of meningitis in adolescents and young adults.
“Recently there have been increased numbers of outbreaks on college campuses, children have died,” Dr. Elaine Schulte with the Cleveland Clinic said.
Meningitis symptoms come on suddenly and include fever, stiff neck and headache.
Some groups say the CDC recommendation doesn’t go far enough because it doesn’t make it a routine vaccination.
Coffey’s mother has made it her mission to make sure what happened to her family doesn’t happen to anyone else.
“I want parents to know there is a fifth serogroup of meningococcal disease, and without the meningococcal B vaccine your child is not fully protected,” Wukovits said.
The new shots are expensive and their long-term effectiveness is unknown. But if the CDC gives the vaccines the green light insurance companies will most likely cover them.