Frankie Milley founded Meningitis Angels when her teenage son Ryan died. Portland, Ore. dad Scott Parkhurst joined the fight last year after losing his 17-year-old son, Jake. Meningitis Angels, a national patient advocacy organization, dedicated to raising awareness and preventing deaths from meningitis in sero groups A, B, C and Y, has made Oregon their ‘ground zero’ to talk about the needless death and injury caused by unvaccinated meningitis.
Milley came to Oregon to continue the conversation about vaccine-preventable diseases such as meningitis and how they affect not only children but adults. Said Portland parent, Scott Parkhurst, who lost his 17-year-old son Jake, to meningococcal meningitis one year ago, ” If we can prevent one death or case of limb loss from this terrible disease, we know our voice has been heard.”
“This is a crucial time to have this conversation in Oregon,” said Oregon Senator, Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, M.D., (D-17) who has written Senate Bill 895 to encourage parents in Oregon to get their school-aged children vaccinated. Sen. Steiner Hayward is co-sponsoring the bill with Oregon Senator Chuck Thomsen (R-26). She adds, “As a family physician, I believe this is the most important thing we can do. This bill has bipartisan support. It’s all about parental choice, and about government transparency to make sure people have the information they need to make informed decisions about their child’s health.” See Sen. Steiner Hayward’s comments at http://www.meningitis-angels.org/.
Said Milley, “It is tragic about the ongoing outbreaks at Oregon and it will most likely continue.” She acknowledged Oregon Governor Kate Brown, the Oregon Health Authority and the University of Oregon for their respective efforts to vaccinate, and added, “Meningitis does not stop at the dorm room door. Not only does the CDC need to recommend the vaccines but all states, including Oregon, should pass mandates that follow all CDC/ACIP recommendations for meningococcal disease completely which include middle and high school students.”
A special music video produced by Meningitis Angels, featuring country music artist Curtis Braly and meningitis survivors, was unveiled, honoring hundreds of “angels” across the United States whose lives have been affected by meningococcal meningitis, in honor of World Meningitis Day and National Infant Immunization Week.
This commemoration has special importance in Oregon. A University of Oregon sophomore, Lauren Jones, died in February after she was infected with meningococcal meningitis sero group B. Additionally, four University of Oregon students and one Northwest Christian College student were diagnosed with the related meningococcemia.
World Meningitis Day is in its seventh year, and calls out the 1.2 million people around the world who have been affected by the vaccine-preventable disease. It causes approximately 120,000 deaths globally each year. Approximately one in 10 people die annually, and as many as one in five suffer permanent damage, limb loss or disability.
Meningitis Angels, a national patient organization, is celebrating World Meningitis Day (WMD) by enjoining Angels from around the world. The organization was founded in memory of Ryan Milley, the only child of Bob and Frankie Milley, and has grown to include more 600 families in the U.S. and some 30+ abroad.