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Actress Helps Promote New Campaign for Meningitis Vaccine
Date:9/11/2009

Rare, often deadly, infection tends to strike young adults, expert says

FRIDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- While public attention has been focused on getting vaccinated for both the seasonal flu and H1N1 swine flu this fall, a nationwide effort has been launched to highlight the need to be vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis, a rare and sometimes deadly infection that tends to strike teenagers and college students.

Labeled the "Voice of Meningitis," the campaign was launched recently by the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) to educate parents about the availability of a safe and effective inoculation against this fast-moving disease, which at its worst can cripple or even kill an affected young person in as little as 24 hours following the initial onset of flu-like symptoms.

"I was approached about three to four months ago to be the spokesperson for the 'Voice of Meningitis' campaign," explained actress Lori Loughlin, star of both the TV sitcom "Full House" and the new CW network incarnation of the popular series "90210."

"I accepted because I am a mother of three, and I was not aware of this particular strain of meningitis -- meningococcal meningitis -- and I thought it's important to get the information out that there is a vaccine for this, because it's very, very serious and heartbreaking what happens when people don't know there's a vaccine," Loughlin said.

Loughlin's children are 10, 11 and 17. Her family, therefore, falls squarely within the recommended vaccination guidelines promoted by U.S. public health officials, which encourage meningitis shots for youths between the ages of 11 and 18. Vaccinations are also recommended for college freshmen living in dormitory settings, Loughlin noted.

"It's much more prevalent in this age group because of all the physical contact," she observed. "The kissing, kids sharing lip gloss, drinking from the same cup, sharing locker rooms
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