Paralympic Champion Supports Meningitis Vaccine

Amy Purdy, a paralympic snowboarding champion and Dancing with the Stars season 18 runner-up, recently spoke with NPR about her new book On My Own Two Feet: From Losing My Legs to Learning the Dance of Life and about her role in preventing meningitis.

College students living in dorms are the most at risk for developing bacterial meningitis, according to NPR. Because Purdy did not attend college, she was under the misconception that she was not at risk for contracting the disease. Purdy was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis at age 19. It took months to recover from the infection that cost the teen her legs, spleen and kidney function.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends the meningitis vaccine for all teenagers, especially if they were not vaccinated as preteens.

Aside from the misconception about meningitis risks, people choose not to get vaccinated out of fear of vaccine-related injuries. However, the consequences of contracting bacterial meningitis can be far more devastating than a rare vaccine injury. More than 10 percent of the people that contract meningitis die, according to CDC.

Adaptive Action Sports (AAS), a nonprofit organization founded by Amy Purdy and Daniel Gale in 2005, is working with Pfizer to raise awareness about a new meningitis B vaccine. AAS creates opportunities for individuals with physical disabilities to get involved in skateboarding and snowboarding and other action sports.

Purdy told NPR that parents should ask their teen’s doctor if they offer the meningococcal meningitis vaccine. “I feel like if parents could vaccinate their kids against car accidents, they would. This is one of those things where there are ways to help protect your kid against this” she said.

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