Serogroup B Testimony: Lucia Jaime

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

Hi, my name is Lucia Jaime. I am here today as a representative of the National Meningitis Association to tell you about my sister, Andrea.

Andrea was one of those kids who excelled at everything. From a very young age, she won awards at school, played sports and somehow still managed to have a social life.

Like most college-bound kids, her first question when she got into Georgetown’s pre-med program was, “How am I going to afford this?” Turns out, she didn’t have to worry about that, because she was awarded the Gates Millennial Scholarship and Georgetown offered her a full ride. They saw that she had a lot of potential; she would have been an amazing doctor.

But in September of her sophomore year, after a few days of feeling sick and being misdiagnosed as having a viral infection, she was found in her dorm in a coma and unresponsive. The next day Andrea passed away from serogroup B meningococcal disease. She was 19.

Seeing my sister in a coma was the most traumatic experience I’ve ever had. I remember begging her to wake up.

The only way I really know how to describe losing her is that it is like trying to breathe with just one lung. But Andrea was very big on academics and I knew she’d be really mad at me if I took the semester off so I went back to school just one week after everything happened.

It’s been nine months and still I struggle every single day while trying to move forward with my life.

I’m so glad there’s a vaccine now, but it won’t save lives unless it is used. As a college student who was not aware of this disease and just assumed my sister and I were protected, I know that unless a doctor specifically recommends a vaccine, college students are unlikely to get it or know to ask about it.

It was Andrea’s dream to help people. Making sure that other people get vaccinated would mean she did just that.

Please, make sure no one else has to go through our heartbreak and provide a broad recommendation for this vaccine. It’s the right thing to do. Thank you.