Meningitis: What You and Your Teen Need to Discuss with Their Doctor


Jamie Schanbaum was thriving at her dream university. Her first semester was filled with making friends, studying hard, and riding her bike around campus—a typical freshman college experience. What she wasn’t prepared for was getting meningitis.

In 24 hours, Jamie went from feeling completely healthy to feeling like she had the flu, to lying in a hospital bed fighting for her life. At one point, she was given a 20 percent chance of survival. She spent several months in the hospital battling the disease. When she left the hospital, she was a different person: one who had survived meningitis but who also had to have her fingers and both legs below the knee amputated.

“This [experience] is how I learned about meningitis,” Schanbaum says. “I just don’t want anyone else to go through what I did.” She is grateful she survived, and, today, despite being part of the one-in-five meningitis survivors who are left with permanent physical impairments, Schanbaum went on to become an accomplished Paralympic cyclist, winning a gold medal at the USA Cycling Paralympic Road National Championships.

As an advocate and Ask2BSure spokesperson, Schanbaum has made it her life’s work to help families avoid the illness by educating others about the importance of vaccination. “My goal now is to make sure every young person and their parents know about meningitis and that there are two different types of vaccines to help protect against the five vaccine-preventable groups: A, C, W, Y and B,” she says.

Here, she talks to fellow Ask2BSure spokesperson Soleil Moon Frye, who is also an actor, director, producer, and mother of four, including a 17-year-old daughter, about the questions parents should ask their teens’ doctors about helping to prevent meningitis B.

For more information and tools to help you speak to your child’s doctor about meningitis B, visit

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