As students return to college one mom is sharing a story of heartbreak hoping to save lives.
Emily Stillman from West Bloomfield was 19-years-old and studying Theater and Psychology at Kalamazoo College. Her mom says she dreamed of working in entertainment and making people laugh.
“When Emily smiled her whole face lit up. She smiled with her whole being. She was special,” said Alicia Stillman, Emily’s mom.
One night in February in 2012 Alicia got a call. Emily told her she had pulled an all nighter studying and had a headache.
“I told her, why don’t you take a few Motrin and get a good night’s sleep. That was the last time I talked to her,” said Alicia.
That night Emily’s headache got worse so she went to the hospital. Hours later she was unconscious. She never woke up.
“It happened so fast. Hours. Just hours,” said Alicia. “…they called me and said she had bacterial meningitis. I said she can’t. She was vaccinated.”
It turns out Emily had received two shots for the MenACWY vaccine. The Meningitis B Vaccine was not yet available in the U.S. so she had not received that. She was not protected.
Now both vaccines are available in this country.
“I know that many parents still don’t know,” said Stillman.
Stillman says all too often parents don’t realize that their children need two types of vaccines that require four shots in total in order to be protected.
This mom says she would like to see Michigan campuses follow the lead of Indiana and Purdue University, which began requiring the vaccination this year. She says at the very least she wants to see more work done to share life saving information about this vaccine.
“The way to treat meningococcal disease is by preventing it and we can do that now,” said Stillman.