we're calling on people to learn the signs and symptoms of meningitis to help protect themselves and their loved ones for World Meningitis Day today (Friday 24 April).
We’re promoting our hard-hitting awareness film ‘The Fastest Hour’ about one woman’s life and death struggle as meningitis ravages her body, to drive home the message that the deadly and debilitating disease can affect anyone at any age.
The film tells the true story of Sophia Wyatt, a college student training to be a ski instructor. Meningitis struck the then 16-year-old out of the blue and her life changed completely.
“My life collapsed like a pack of cards” she said. “I was in a deep coma for two weeks. The blood poisoning ripped through my body and turned my legs and the fingers on my right hand black.”
To save her life, Sophia had her legs and part of her right hand amputated.
Fighting complacency about meningitis
The film’s messages are clear - recognise the severity of meningitis, the speed with which it can develop and act fast to seek urgent medical attention.
“I was literally blown away when I saw the final cut of the film - it's brilliant!” Sophia added. “I truly believe this film will save lives and urge people to watch, share and be aware!"
Sue Davie, our chief executive, said: “We’re using this international awareness day to fight complacency about meningitis. Many people think that with the announcement of a new vaccine for Meningitis B last month the disease is beaten. Nothing could be further from the truth."
“One of the biggest myths is that children are protected against all types of meningitis through vaccination and, in reality, this is not the case. Many others think it only affects children. Not true – it can affect anyone of any age.”
Spend 15 minutes learning about meningitis
The 60-second film, available here, vividly portrays the feelings of the young woman, from starting to feel unwell to being kept alive in intensive care, and the full impact the disease has on her life. It shows how quickly meningitis takes hold and the need for urgent medical attention.
“The film quite rightly pulls no punches and will make people sit up and take notice” Sue added. “We’re happy to support this international awareness day and draw attention to it so we can help to reduce the tragic impact of this disease.”
World Meningitis Day is an initiative of the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO). It is held each year on 24 April and this year CoMO is keen to promote the messages that:
- meningitis is deadly and debilitating;
- meningitis can develop quickly, over a matter of hours, with flu-like symptoms;
- meningitis can affect anyone at any age; and
- vaccination can help protect people against meningitis
The organisation is using a social media campaign to urge people to join hands against meningitis to show their support. It also has an online petition with a call to action to ensure everyone has access to vaccines that prevent meningitis. Find out more here