Heartbroken mum of teenager who died of meningitis supports campaign to raise vaccination rates
A grieving Wigan mum who said she would do “anything” to hear her daughter’s laugh again is backing a campaign to raise meningitis vaccination rates after figures showed the region has one of the lowest uptake rates in the country.
Five years after losing daughter Alisha to the disease while she was studying in Liverpool, Michaela Bartolini is supporting charity Meningitis Now’s campaign to raise the numbers getting the MenACWY immunisation in the city and surrounding areas.
Other news: Drug and alcohol rehab workers' pay dispute escalates as week-long strike is announcedThe Appley Bridge 18-year-old was found dead in her accommodation after a night out in November 2014 - only weeks after she had begun life as a student at Liverpool Hope University.
Figures for 2017 – when this year’s first-year university students (freshers) will have been offered the MenACWY vaccination at school – show that 73.7 per cent of eligible students in Liverpool were vaccinated against meningitis, compared with a national average of 79 per cent.
While a number of students will have since had the vaccine through catch up programmes or their GP, a significant number still urgently need to have the vaccine to protect themselves and their friends.
Older teenagers and new university students are at higher risk of infection because many of them mix closely with lots of new people, some of whom may unknowingly carry the meningococcal bacteria at the back of their noses and throats.
Students may get the vaccine via their registered GP surgery or their University Health Centre.
Since Alisha’s death, Michaela has been a strong advocate for making sure young people in the region are vaccinated against the disease that killed her daughter.
“There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about Alisha,” she said.
“Her life was cut so tragically short and if I can help to prevent this happening to even one other young person, I will.
“Please make sure you or your child is vaccinated.
“Please make sure you or they know the signs and symptoms of meningitis.
“It is a rare disease, but it is also a disease that strikes indiscriminately and strikes fast.
“Because of this, knowing the signs and symptoms really can be the difference between life and death.”
As the five-year anniversary of Alisha’s death approached, Michaela wanted to pay tribute to her daughter: “From such a young age, Alisha was always a kind, caring and happy child growing up into a loving, thoughtful and beautiful young lady,” she said.
“She loved spending time between her family and friends, enjoying evenings in at home, particularly with her baby brother (at the time) or catching up with her friends socially.
“But one thing was for certain, Alisha was a ‘Mother Hen’.
“She would always make sure others were OK before herself and she just loved taking people ‘under her wing’.
“Alisha had a very dry sense of humour and was very loud but I wouldn’t have had her any other way and today, would give anything to hear that infectious laugh again.”
In the years since Alisha died, Liverpool Hope University has taken significant steps to ensure as many students as possible get vaccinated. Meningitis Now is also working with other universities in the city on this important message.