August is National Immunization Awareness month and a Texas woman is fighting to get every college student in america protected from every strain of the disease.
In our “Sinclair Cares” report, brought to you by “South Texas Medical Center,” she talks with Delaine Mathieu about the disease that nearly killed her and the mission that keeps her fighting.
She’s the voice for survivors of meningitis all over the world. 28-year-old Jamie Schanbaum has made a name for herself as the girl who’s saving lives. “I didn’t know it was a life-threatening disease and I didn’t know that when you’re on college campus, you’re at a higher risk of catching it,” said Jamie. “And I walked onto campus not knowing that and almost lost my life to the disease.”
In 2008, as a student at the University of Texas at Austin, Jamie contracted Meningoccocal Meningitis — an infection that attacks the tissue around the brain and spinal chord. “I was watching my limbs go from red rash within a couple of days, to purple to black, to rotting, to decaying with my fingers shriveled up like raisins,” she told Delaine. “And my feet curled up like ballerinas could not fathom. I was just decaying.”
She lost both legs below the knee, the majority of both hands and spent seven months in the hospital. Her mother went before the Texas legislature urging lawmakers to create a law requiring students who live on campus to get the meningitis vaccine. It passed. “I got meningitis C so that vaccine was available and i didn’t know about it and if i had gotten it i would have been fine,” she said.
But, even though it’s typically spread in places like dormitories, Jamie got it while living *off* campus and knew more had to be done. So, in 2011, after the death of a Texas A&M student, who also lived off campus, she helped get the law amended to include *all* college students in Texas, period.
Jamie says her next mission is to get the law amended to include the meningitis B vaccine so that all five strains of meningitis are covered. This young girl, with an unstoppable attitude, refusing to let meningitis ruin her life — or anyone else’s.
Since 2011, immunization rates have gone up by 50% in Texas with more than 325,000 students getting vaccinated every year.
For information about Jamie’s fight, visit her web page, thejamiegroup.org.