Serogroup B Testimony: Jackie Ross

This testimony was provided to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on June 26, 2015.

My name is Jackie Ross and I am the sister of Stephanie Ross, the Drexel University student who died from meningitis B in March of 2014. My sister was awesome! She was smart, funny and compassionate. But I am not here to tell you how great she was. I’m here representing the National Meningitis Association. I’m here to do what I can to prevent the kind of losses so many of us here have had to endure.

My parents spoke to you in October. On behalf of my parents and also on behalf of all of Stephanie’s and my own college classmates who want to be protected from the devastating effects of ALL of the meningococcal strains, I am asking you to please make a broad vaccination recommendation.

Since December my parents have worked to get me the serogroup B vaccine. This was no easy task. It took many phone calls and emails between them and the vaccine manufacturers, my pediatrician, various pharmacies and even the Department of Public Health. I was finally able to get vaccinated just last week. But that process took nearly six months and it only occurred because our pediatrician finally thought to recommend that we look into a travel vaccination clinic.

My parents also tried to get the vaccine through several pharmacies. Most did not have access to it, and those that could get it did not have anyone on staff that could administer it, so ordering it wouldn’t have mattered.

Parents should not have to work this hard to get an FDA-approved vaccine to protect their children. When you’ve lost a family member you go the extra mile to do what it takes for your family. My fear is that a lot of people will feel uncomfortable not getting the vaccine through their doctor or that there will not be enough outlets for everyone to get vaccinated.

Without a broad recommendation from you today, doctors won’t recommend that young adults be vaccinated against this deadly threat. That would be a terrible thing that would, sadly, only be reversed after more people, like my sister, suffer the devastating effects of serogroup B meningitis.

In the span of a few hours I lost my only sister, my mentor, my best friend. I don’t want that to happen to anyone else especially when the solution is within our reach.

Thank you for your time.