At a crucial time when vaccination against potentially deadly diseases is top of mind, the National Meningitis Association (NMA) is teaming up with award-winning actress, author and mother of three Molly Ringwald to encourage parents to talk to their teen’s doctor about the potentially life-saving second dose of the MenACWY vaccine for meningococcal disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a first dose of the MenACWY vaccine at 11-12 years old and a second dose at 16 years old. Despite these recommendations, approximately half of U.S. teens have missed this crucial second dose.
Ringwald’s partnership is part of The 16 Vaccine, an initiative by the NMA, in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur, which aims to educate parents about the importance of vaccination for meningococcal disease. As someone who has fond memories and associations with turning 16, Ringwald is committed to helping protect her children from vaccine-preventable diseases, including meningococcal disease – and wants to be sure other families are aware and protected too.
“Being a mom is the role I’m most proud of. When my oldest daughter turned 16, my husband and I made sure she received the second dose of the MenACWY vaccine because we want to help protect her future,” said Ringwald. “I was shocked to learn that around half of teens nationwide haven’t received this second dose, which helps strengthen protection against meningococcal disease. We need more awareness. We need more action. Parents, let’s change this statistic together.”
Anyone can get meningococcal disease, but teens are at increased risk due to common lifestyle factors or behaviors among their age group, such as living in close quarters and socializing in crowded environments. Although rare, meningococcal disease can develop rapidly and claim a life in as little as one day. It can also lead to devastating complications, including hearing loss, brain damage, kidney damage or limb amputations.
“I lost my son Chris within 24 hours to meningococcal meningitis when he was a senior in high school, and at the time, we didn’t know it was vaccine-preventable. I don’t want any family to experience this kind of loss and hope to reach more parents through our work with Molly this year,” said Leslie Maier, President of the NMA. “Together, we’re encouraging all parents to speak to their teen’s doctor about the CDC-recommended second dose of the MenACWY vaccine, and to ask about MenB and other adolescent vaccines.”
As part of The 16 Vaccine initiative, Ringwald and the NMA are sharing a public service announcement, which will start airing in June across the country. In addition, Ringwald will be participating in various activities with parent groups to raise awareness directly in the cities where MenACWY second dose vaccination rates are particularly low.
Parents can visit The16Vaccine.org to learn more about meningococcal disease and prevention, hear firsthand stories from survivors and advocates, and access educational resources. The16Vaccine.org also offers an option for parents to sign up for reminders to schedule their teens’ 16-year vaccination visit.