Meningitis B: It happens. It’s preventable. Get vaccinated.

My amazing son Henry was a healthy 21-year-old student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A musician, scholar, DJ and longboarder, he was witty and funny. Then, within a matter of hours, he was gone. Henry died after contracting a rare form of meningitis known as Serogroup B Meningococcal disease (meningitis B). Ten to 15 percent of people who get this disease will die from it. Those who survive can face permanent disabilities such as hearing loss, brain damage and limb amputations. Symptoms during the early phase of the illness are similar to the flu, often delaying victims from seeking urgent medical attention. Tragically, my family and I learned this lesson firsthand. Henry became ill on a Saturday night. When his fever reached 104 degrees, his roommates took him to the emergency room. The doctor said he was getting the flu and then sent him home. âÄúPlease come back if you get worse,âÄù his doctor said. As his fever dropped, Henry thought he was getting better. This was not the case. He began vomiting. A speckled rash appeared on his body. His neck and back ached. He still thought he was OK, until about 3 a.m. the following night. His right side went numb. He could not speak clearly. Thinking he was having a stroke, Henry walked himself back to the emergency room. All alone in the hospital, Henry had a seizure, fell into a coma and never regained consciousness. I did not get there in time to say goodbye or tell him that I love him. Every parentâÄôs worst nightmare âÄî burying your child âÄî became a reality for me. Henry was vaccinated for several forms of meningitis, but at that time, there was no vaccination available in the United States for the Serogroup B form of the disease. Today, there is hope. In October 2014, a new vaccine called Trumenba, which protects against meningitis B, was approved. Please, get all the vaccines for meningitis. Trumenba is available at Boynton Health Service and is covered by the student health insurance plan. It could save your life. It could save your friend. Get it for yourself. Get it for your friends. Get it for your mom! Get the meningitis B vaccine as soon as possible.