(WTNH) — As some parents get ready to send kids back to the classroom, doctors are reminding them to make sure their vaccinations are up to date to avoid any other type of outbreak.
One mom shares her heartbreaking story of losing her teenage daughter to something that there is now a vaccine for, yet many parents don’t even realize it.
Patti’s 17-year-old daughter, Kim, was in her last two weeks of high school looking forward to prom, graduation, and nursing school.
“She came home from school one day with body aches and a temperature of 101,” Patti said.
It was 2012. Patti Wukovits, a registered nurse, thought it was the flu, but the next morning Kim felt very sick and saw three tiny purple dots on her back.
“She said ‘Mommy I feel so sick.'”
Patti rushed Kim to the ER – she had “bacterial meningitis” from meningitis B. Her mother knew she did have some kind of meningitis vaccine, she had never heard of meningitis B, a rare but very contagious and dangerous condition.
Patti said, “As soon as she got up the pediatric intensive care unit she never urinated again, her kidneys were shutting down, she was having difficulty breathing, and shortly after she went into cardiac arrest. All of her organs were failing she was in multi-organ failure.”
She added, “I had to then make the hardest decision of my life to remove my otherwise healthy daughter from life support. This is two weeks before prom, this is two weeks before graduation.”
Patti created the Kimberly Coffey Foundation in her memory to educate the world about the now readily available meningitis B vaccine, that she says that less than 20% of teens and young adults get due to lack of education.
“I buried her in her prom dress that she didn’t get to dance in, she didn’t get to wear, two days before her high school graduation.”
Patti wants parents to know there are two meningitis vaccines. The one that could have saved Kim if available then is recommended by the CDC for people between ages 16 and 19. UConn pediatrician Dr. Jody Terranova urges parents to review that and all vaccinations with their doctors.
Dr. Terranova said, “The offices are very safe with precautions, masks and face shields, families should feel very secure in going and making sure that their child is up to date, especially if they’re planning to go back to in-person school.”