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Chris Brison

In spring 2008, Chris’ daughter, Caitlin, was a healthy college freshman. One day, as she was commuting to her part-time job, she vomited on the side of the road and returned home. Chris left church to care for her and gave her anti-nausea medicine. That evening, Caitlin’s temperature rose to 104 degrees.

Several hours later, Caitlin developed a purple rash on her stomach and arms and Chris rushed her to the ER. Chris spent the night by her side. The next day, doctors confirmed Caitlin had bacterial meningitis.
Caitlin spent three weeks in the hospital. After her release, she was in a wheelchair and on kidney dialysis. With the help of a physical therapist, she learned to walk again. Caitlin continues to receive kidney dialysis and lives with long-term complications including short-term memory loss and anemia. Despite these complications, six years after her diagnosis, Caitlin graduated from college.

Caitlin wasn’t vaccinated because her college did not require vaccination before entry. Chris now works with NMA to educate others about meningitis symptoms and prevention.

Caitlin Brison

One day during Caitlin’s freshmen year at Middle Tennessee State University, she was commuting to her part-time job when she began vomiting and returned home. That evening, her temperature rose to 104 degrees. When she developed a purple rash on her stomach and arms, her mother rushed her to the ER. The next day, doctors confirmed she had bacterial meningitis.

Caitlin spent three weeks in the hospital. After her release, she was in a wheelchair and on kidney dialysis. With the help of a physical therapist, she learned to walk again. Caitlin continues to receive kidney dialysis and lives with long-term complications including short-term memory loss and anemia. Despite these complications, six years after her diagnosis, Caitlin graduated from college.

Caitlin wasn’t vaccinated and her college did not require vaccination before entry. She is now dedicated to raising awareness of meningococcal disease and its prevention.

Casey Mahlon

Casey was a senior in high school when she developed a fever and a rash all over her body. Her mother drove her to the ER, where she was initially misdiagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease and sent home. The next day, still in serious pain, but also vomiting and with a severe headache, Casey went to her doctor. After treating her pain, he called an ambulance. Casey woke up five days later, diagnosed with serogroup B meningococcal disease. She experienced brain swelling resulting in scarring that caused long-term neurological complications.

Casey had been vaccinated against meningococcal disease. Unfortunately, vaccines available at the time covered most strains of the disease, but did not cover serogroup B disease. Currently recommended vaccines protect against serogroups A, C, W and Y and there is now a vaccine available for serogroup B. Today, Casey works in digital marketing. She wants to increase awareness of meningitis and its prevention.

Tresa Whitehead

Tresa’s daughter, Sarah Beth, was an athletic 14-year-old, full of faith and loved by all who knew her when she tragically lost her life to meningococcal disease. One night, Sarah Beth woke up with a severe headache and chills. She soon began to vomit, but she told Tresa to go back to sleep, saying she would be fine. Tresa found Sara Beth unconscious a short time later and called 911. At the emergency room, Sarah Beth was diagnosed with meningococcal disease. Sarah Beth’s organs began to fail and she was having trouble breathing. Hours later, doctors transported Sarah Beth to a hospital better able to handle her condition, but Sarah Beth never regained consciousness. She passed away on March 11, 2005.

“This devastating disease is particularly dangerous because symptoms closely resemble the flu, making it hard to identify and diagnose,” said Tresa. “Our adolescents and teens are at increased risk, and the best way to protect them is through prevention. I urge you to speak with your children’s health care provider about meningococcal vaccination.”

Linda and Dwight Fryer

Linda Fryer’s daughter, Adrienne, was a loving, funny and intelligent 16-year-old who played clarinet in her high school band, when she lost her life to meningococcal disease. Adrienne went with her sister to a movie and when she got home she complained she wasn’t feeling well and had pain in her legs. She went to bed, but awoke at 2:00 a.m. with a fever. The next morning, Adrienne’s condition worsened. She had a very high fever, and was lethargic, achy, and dehydrated. Linda decided to take her to the hospital. By the time they arrived, Adrienne could barely walk. Doctors told Linda her daughter was very sick, but they didn’t know why. They decided to transport Adrienne to another hospital, but Adrienne had passed away.

“Parents need to know that meningococcal disease exists and that it can be prevented,” said Linda. “Had I known, my daughter Adrienne would have been vaccinated and might be alive today. After losing Adrienne, I made sure that my other daughter, Amanda, was vaccinated against this disease.”