Shara Johnson-Ludlum’s 10-year-old son Tyler almost lost his life in June 2008 to meningococcal disease. Tyler was running a high fever, so Shara brought him to the doctor who diagnosed him with a virus, and sent him home to rest. Soon after Tyler began to have trouble breathing and Shara rushed him to the hospital. Tyler’s heart stopped beating and doctors had to place him in a medically induced coma for 8 days and, eventually had to amputate his feet and some fingers on his right hand due to complications resulting from the disease. Despite limb amputations, scarring, and other ongoing health issues, Tyler remains an active 10-year-old and participates in wrestling tournaments, enjoys skiing, and is planning to take up snowboarding. While Shara had seen television commercials for the meningococcal vaccine, she never discussed it with Tyler’s doctor because she didn’t realize pre-teens are at risk for the disease. In fact, it wasn’t until after Tyler got sick that Shara learned there is a vaccine available for use in younger children.
“Don’t think this can’t happen to you,” said Shara. “Meningococcal disease can be prevented, and I encourage parents to do all that you can to protect your children by getting them vaccinated against this devastating disease.”