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Lucy Hale challenges students to “boost the volume” against meningococcal meningitis

Cydney Hayes - Editor-in-Chief, Photo by Dan Siman-Tov - Photographer

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High school and college students often think they are invincible. They are young, energetic and, as far as their lives are concerned, perpetually healthy. However, within a 24-hour period, that invincibility could drastically change if they contract meningococcal meningitis.

Although people can live through a battle with meningitis, the first symptoms are very similar to the flu, so many victims do not take proper action at the first signs that something is wrong. Unfortunately, this is often a fatal mistake. If it is not treated immediately, it can take the life of an otherwise healthy person in less one day. This disease is “the number-one fastest killing disease and has been for decades,” but since it is rare, most people do not know that there is a vaccine – in fact, two vaccines.

“Since the first vaccination wanes a little bit in its effectiveness, you really need to think about getting that booster at 16 to 18 years old,” said Sally Schoessler, a Director of Nursing Education for the National Association of School Nurses.

On May 18, during the lunchtime honor roll ceremony, actress and singer Lucy Hale visited the PAEC to speak on behalf of Voices of Meningitis, an offspring organization seven years in the making by the National Association of School Nurses and Sanofi Pasteur. Its is simple: raise awareness about a deadly illness. This bacterial disease is only curable if treated immediately with antibiotics in a professional environment. More often than not, meningitis is deadly, and about 20 percent of those who do survive are left with permanent side-effects, such as “severe scarring, brain or kidney damage, hearing loss, or amputations.”

Because Hale is not only an T.V. star but also a country music sensation, she became the face – and, of course, the voice – of Voices of Meningitis’ Boost the Volume campaign, a nationwide contest among “high school a cappella groups to help boost the volume on the importance of teens getting a booster shot to help protect them from contracting meningitis.”

In May, the organization announced Unstrumental as the winner of the grand prize of accompanying Hale in a promotional commercial to raise awareness about meningitis and the booster vaccination. The PSA will begin airing nationwide in June. During the ceremony, Hale performed with Unstrumental to a mash-up of American Authors’ “Best Day of My Life” and OneRepublic’s “Good Life.” Then, in addition to Hale and Schoessler’s speeches, Jamie Schanbaum, a meningitis survivor, told CHS her story.

In 2008, Schanbaum was a 20-year-old student at the University of Texas. Completely healthy and completely normal, Schanbaum could have never imagined how much her life would change by the end of that year. She lost both her lower legs and most of her fingers to meningitis, but she clearly maintained her resilience and inspiring spirit. Along with Hale, Schanbaum is the loudest voice of the Boost the Volume campaign. There was not one student in the CHS auditorium that did not take Schanbaum’s words seriously, and there was not one student that did not stop to appreciate his or her lot in life when Schanbaum stood behind the podium.

“There is such a lack of awareness, so we hope that this campaign will start a chain reaction,” said Hale. “If one person mentions the vaccination to another person who tells another person and so on, we could really do some good.”

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Lucy Hale challenges students to “boost the volume” against meningococcal meningitis