Tiffany Thornton Almost Died from Meningitis as a Teen

Posted on: May 4, 2011

Actress and singer Tiffany Thornton, star of the Disney Channel’s So Random, nearly lost her life to meningococcal disease as a teen, and is sharing her personal battle with the disease through the Voices of Meningitis initiative urging parents to vaccinate their preteen and teenage children.

As the new spokesperson, Thornton joins school nurses, parents, other survivors of the disease and health experts nationwide as part of Voices of Meningitis – a national awareness initiative of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur, that aims to increase awareness of this potentially deadly disease and urge parents to seek vaccination for preteens and teens.

“One day I was fine, the next day I was in the hospital fighting for my life – it happened so fast,” said Thornton. “If my parents and I had known that teens are at greater risk for meningitis, I would’ve been vaccinated. Now I’m adding my ‘voice’ to this campaign to urge parents to talk to their child’s school nurse or health-care provider about vaccination, to help them avoid what my parents and I went through.”

Preteens and teens are at greater risk for meningococcal disease – a rare, but serious bacterial infection that can cause meningitis and take the life of an otherwise healthy child in just a single day. Vaccination is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for preteens and teens, yet nearly half of U.S. adolescents 11 to 17 years of age have not been immunized, leaving many unprotected against the disease.

School nurses across the country are leading the charge to educate parents about the need for vaccination. “We believe the power of voice and sharing of stories will provide families with the information needed to make informed decisions about meningococcal vaccination,” said Sandi Delack, RN, MEd, NCSN, a school nurse for more than 20 years and the president of the NASN. “The role of the school nurse is to ensure the health and well-being of the students in their care. Promoting this important health message is a critical step toward fulfilling that responsibility.”


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