Serogroup B Testimony: Laurie Stelzer

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

My name is Laurie Stelzer and I’m a representative of the National Meningitis Association.

In October 2014, I lost my smart, funny and healthy 18-year-old daughter, Sara, to serogroup B meningococcal disease.

She called us from her school in San Diego, California complaining of a severe headache and nausea. We got there three hours later, but she was already in the hospital on a ventilator.

She died from serogroup B meningococcal disease just a few days later. Sara’s organs saved the lives of others.

Sara loved to laugh and sing. Even though she only sang in the car, she auditioned to sing at her high school graduation. She chose the song “I’ll Stand by You” and brought a stadium of people to their feet.

She was just beginning her life, and we expected a great future for her. Serogroup B meningococcal disease stole that.

No mother should have to bury her child. It’s not the right order of things. If one fewer child dies of this preventable disease that would be a very strong legacy for Sara.

I took her for all her recommended vaccines before college. We got everything that they told us to. At that time, serogroup B vaccines weren’t approved. But they are now. It would be devastating for another child to lose their life knowing that it could be avoided.

You have the opportunity to prevent other families from going through what we went through. The available vaccines to protect against serogroup B meningococcal disease must be recommended broadly for all adolescents, just as the A, C, W and Y vaccines have been. This disease destroys families and lives.

Protecting our children against all strains of this life-shattering disease is the right thing to do.