Focus at Four: Meningitis Vaccination

Back to school time is right around the corner.
Now's the time to get important vaccinations...specifically the vaccine for meningitis.

It's an uncommon but potentially life-threatening illness.

Just 7 years ago, Texas A&M student Nicolis Williams was hospitalized from bacterial meningitis and passed away from the disease a short time later.

It's a sobering reminder how dangerous this disease can be.

On First News at Four, Dr. Len Friedland..the director of Scientific Affairs and Public Health at GlaxoSmithKline and Tiffany Williams, Nicolis' sister, joined us to talk about meningitis B.

In 2011, while attending Texas A&M University, Tiffany's younger brother Nicolis "Nico" Williams suffered what he thought was a bad headache after a night out with friends. After a visit to the clinic, he went to sleep off his flu-like symptoms. Hours later, he was admitted to the emergency room and diagnosed with meningitis B, which ultimately cost him his life.

Shortly after Nico passed away, Tiffany's family began working with the J.A.M.I.E. Group, founded by meningitis survivor Jamie Schanbaum and her family, to change the law in the state of Texas.

On May 27, 2011, the 82nd Texas Legislature passed the Jamie Schanbaum and Nicolis Williams Act, making Texas the first state in the country to require all first-time college students be vaccinated against bacterial meningitis. Tiffany and her family founded a non-profit, The NICO Williams Foundation (Neglecting Immunizations Compromising Opportunity) in 2012, which works to educate about the disease and vaccinations for meningococcal disease, with a current focus on meningitis B.

Tiffany is now working as a paid GSK spokesperson, sharing her brother's story, to educate parents and young adults about the dangers of meningitis and the types of vaccines available to help prevent it.