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Monday August 29, 2016

A Grieving Father's Plea: Vaccinate Your College Student

57b 79eceb 6977.imageNicolis Williams never got to make his mark on the world in the way he wanted; instead, he will be remembered for the future he was deprived of: He is one of the two people for whom a Texas law is named that requires vaccination against meningococcal disease for college students. Nicolis died of bacterial meningitis in 2011, soon after returning to Texas A&M from winter break.

It is said, with great truth, that loving parents never get over the loss of a child. And it’s so much worse when caring parents feel they might have played a role in that death.

Nicolis' father Greg is one of those caring parents, who loved family traditions and the cycles of a family’s life—summer barbecues and back-to-school preparations. He gave his son a solid foundation to prepare him for college and a good life, but he still lives with a feeling of guilt: For all he did for his son, he didn’t make sure he had all his vaccinations. Not that Greg Williams rejected vaccines; they just didn’t seem like a high-priority item.

In this haunting essay published by The Monitor, Nicolis' father brings us into the moments we share, of cherished rituals and exciting family preparations—the moments he no longer can have with his son.  And he shares his pain with us, but out of compassion, so that we can take the steps to spare ourselves similar grief.

Whether or not you have taken all the steps you should on immunization, this beautiful essay will touch your life and change you forever.

COMMENTARY: Vaccinate all students before they go off to college

By Greg Williams

As another enjoyable summer draws to a close, our backyard barbecues and cherished family vacations become forever anchored in our memories. While one season reluctantly ends, another anxiously begins. Those treasured family activities are quickly replaced by back-to-school shopping and in some cases, planning the departure of our college-bound children. In either case, a list is typically developed to ensure nothing is missed when our adored children start/return to their educational institutions.

Clothes, check. School supplies, check. FAFSA completed, check. Care package, check. A little extra cash, check. Vaccinations? Why vaccinations? Because the health and safety of our children is every parent’s top priority, yet many fail their responsibilities by taking for granted their child’s vaccinations are current or as in my case, totally oblivious of the necessity. As a result of my passiveness, my son died from bacterial meningitis, a vaccine preventable disease.

Read the full essay here.



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