Serogroup B Testimony: Casey Mahlon
This testimony was submitted to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on June 26, 2015.
Members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices:
At age 17, I was perfectly healthy. I was getting ready to go off to college, was the co-captain of my high school tennis team and had a lot of friends. But only a few weeks from my high school graduation, everything changed as a result of serogroup B meningitis.
One night, I woke up with a fever and my mom gave me some Tylenol. The next day, my fever became worse, and a speckled rash appeared all over my body. My mom drove me to the ER, where I was misdiagnosed and sent home. The next morning, I woke up screaming because of an excruciating headache. I never felt anything even close to that kind of pain. My mom immediately took me back to the doctor who gave me pain killers. I do not remember anything after that, but I woke up five days later in the hospital and was told I had bacterial meningitis.
The recovery process was long and hard and it was a long time before I began feeling like myself again. I missed a lot while recovering – AP tests, senior week, the last summer before college. I assumed my recovery meant life would go back to the way it was, so when I began college, I didn’t understand why my coursework was so difficult. I was eventually prescribed medication to help cope with memory and concentration issues resulting from severe brain swelling and scarring. I didn’t know this disease would affect me the rest of my life.
However, I am thankful that I am here today. I know that others aren’t as lucky. I had the recommended meningitis vaccine but that was all I really knew about it. I did not know that it didn’t protect against all strains of the disease. I just knew it was something you had to do when you were going off to college.
Like many teens, I relied on my doctor to tell me what vaccines I needed to protect myself. Now vaccines are available to protect against five major strains of this disease and we need to empower health care professionals to protect their patients.
Please recommend the B vaccine for adolescents so no one else has to go through what my family and I went through. It’s the right thing to do
Casey Mahlon, T.E.A.M. (Together Educating about Meningitis) Member
National Meningitis Association