Evelyn Brooks lost her 21-year-old daughter, Paula, a senior at the University of Missouri, to a rare bacterial infection called meningococcal disease. One morning in February 1999, Paula came down with flu-like symptoms. She called her mom and Evelyn assured her it was probably the flu and to rest. Hours later, after appearing listless and vomiting violently, friends rushed Paula to the emergency room. Doctors performed a spinal tap, confirming Paula had meningococcal disease. Within a few hours, Paula’s organs started to fail and her skin was covered in a purple rash. Despite treatment, doctors were unable to save Paula, and she lost her battle to meningococcal disease. Evelyn had studied meningococcal disease while in nursing school but never suspected such a rare, yet potentially fatal, disease could strike her 21-year-old daughter.
“If I knew then what I do now about meningococcal disease and how deadly it can be, I would have had Paula vaccinated,” said Evelyn. “As a parent, you want to do everything you can to protect your children.”