Get the facts, and make a choice to live a healthy life.
You may not remember it, but you had a lot of immunizations when you were a kid. And guess what? You're not done yet!
You're healthy, strong, and probably wondering why you should bother with vaccines. Well, the fact is that in every phase of your life, you'll need to be immunized against certain infections.
For now, you're at risk of getting diseases such as meningitis, flu, and HPV. And that's just a few on the list for your age group.
Meningitis doesn't affect many people, but when it does, those infected can lose arms and legs, their hearing, or their life. People living in dorms or barracks or other types of group housing are particularly at risk.
Every year, different flu strains circle around the globe. Some are harder on babies and those with existing illnesses, and other strains are hard on the young and healthy—like you. And when we say “hard,” we mean the strain can kill you.
HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common sexually transmitted infection. It can come and go without you knowing you had it, or it can cause cancer or genital warts.
There are other diseases that are easier to deal with by being proactive and getting immunized, rather than getting an infection and hoping you're not one of statistics.
Help us to spread the word: you're never too old for immunizations. Clue your friends in and #YourChoice all over the place!
We'll be looking for it on all the social media sites, and we'll feature catchy phrases and original content that get the word around.
It's your body, it's your life, and it's Your Choice. Immunize and stay healthy!
What's Your Choice?
Got questions? We have answers. It's Your Choice! Get educated and take control of your health.
Are you the parent of an older teen or young adult? Learn more about how you can help your older child stay healthy through immunization.
Why it Matters
You have a choice to take control of your health. Don't wait to get immunized. Do it today!
Kristi was a beautiful, intelligent elementary school teacher, and my only sibling. She was healthy, and ran or walked several miles many times a week.
She was active in the community, supporting anything for children. And she made sure her own two children were given lots of experiences by visiting zoos and national parks, camping, playing sports, and doing lots of other activities.
She was always on the go somewhere to do something.
She encouraged all of us to spend time with family, and to put aside our daily chores so that we wouldn’t miss out on opportunities to make memories.
She was an avid photographer and literally had thousands of photos stored on memory cards.
She was always the one to pick up on someone being left out, and took time to show them kindness and love. Kristi developed many strong relationships because of this positive attitude. She was very strong-willed, fighting for what she believed was the right thing in life.
My sister was someone special.
Since Kristi taught first grade, she was frequently exposed to colds and illnesses. Even though she was healthy, on December 12th, 2013, she began to develop symptoms of influenza. She had a headache, extreme fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and a hacking cough.
She went to her physician, who prescribed Tamiflu® and told her to take some over-the-counter flu relief medications.
She made a choice to not purchase the Tamiflu because, even with insurance, the cost was $65, and she had Christmas presents left to buy. Kristi didn’t want anyone to do without a precious gift, particularly her children.
The next two days she began to worsen, to the point she couldn’t get out of bed to get herself fluids. Friends came by to help her and brought her Gatorade®. My mother took her chicken noodle broth, and she was able to get out of bed on Sunday, December 15th.
She still complained of a headache, but drank lots of fluids to try to build up her strength. Kristi’s fever continued, and she started noticing some chest pain Sunday evening while in the shower. Once out, she said it went away. Urgent care had already closed, so she told us she would return to her doctor’s office on Monday morning just to make sure she wasn’t developing any complications.
My mother asked her if she had gotten a flu vaccine this year and she said, “No, but I will definitely get one next year!” She was so scared of needles that she opted to not get a vaccine, thinking lots of people get the flu and suffer through it a few days and get better.
She was not this lucky.
On December 16th, at 1:13pm, only four days into her illness, I got a call from my dad saying an ambulance had been called to her house and it didn’t sound good.
Hearing those words from my dad, who was an EMT, made me know it was serious. As I rushed to the hospital, I picked up my mom from her work and tried to reassure her to stay calm. I tried to prepare Mom for Kristi maybe being on a ventilator or unconscious, just in case.
As we approached the hospital ER doors, my father came out with tears rolling down his cheeks, and my mother instantly knew without him speaking. She desperately asked, “She didn’t make it?” He quietly shook his head. And as I stood there clinging to my parents as they mourned the death of their child I thought of my mother’s words I had so quickly brushed off, “People die from the flu, Sharon.”
As a registered nurse, I have taken care of many patients with influenza and they have recovered. I brushed it off when my mom had been worrying over the weekend because my sister was healthy! She was active. She was an adult with no complications.
Kristi was so healthy, she gave my dad a kidney 10 years ago. At her regular check-ups, her physician always said things looked great and she was doing well.
Healthy adults don’t die from the flu!
She was a fighter, she was so strong-willed. People like that don’t succumb to the flu.
But, I was wrong. Healthy adults and children die every year from the flu because they do not get vaccinated—the number one way to prevent infection.
Losing a sister, and having to see my parents mourn the loss of their first-born, was the hardest thing I have ever faced in my life.
Seeing the pain in their eyes, the thousands of tears shed, was crushing to me. I not only lost my sister but had to watch my parents’ pain, knowing I could not fix this.
But one thing I know is it could have been prevented. It only takes a minute. The pain of a needle doesn’t compare to the pain of watching your family suffer through grief, trust me! Influenza can be prevented with a simple vaccine taken yearly.
It’s your choice. Please make the decision to vaccinate yourself against this deadly illness.
by Sharon Hicks
My older brother, Evan, and I were 12 1/2 months apart. We were the “twins” who weren’t really twins, but who shared a bond so close, that I still can’t believe he is gone.
I never needed to worry about having friends around, because I always had Evan. We both loved sports, and I have the greatest memories of growing up playing baseball, soccer, and basketball together. It was a great family time, and one I hope to impart to my children.
Evan wanted to be a pitcher on a college baseball team, and my dad took him around to different colleges in Georgia. After tryouts at Georgia Southwestern University, Evan was asked to join the team as a walk-on player.
He was at a small university, but he loved it and loved his team. I was attending the University of Georgia, and I was so proud of my brother for following his dream. Both of us had plans to become orthopedic sports physicians and practice medicine together. We would get married, our children would not only be cousins but best friends—everything was planned out, everything was in motion.
Then, Evan came down with a violent migraine, so we thought.
The ER physicians diagnosed him as having a “little virus,” but it wasn’t a “little virus.” It was bacterial meningitis, or more specifically, “meningococcal disease.” My parents were told he had a 5% chance of survival.
I can only imagine, now that I am a parent myself, what horror they must have felt hearing that their son might die. I was on spring break with some friends in Florida, and my parents couldn’t reach me until much later that night. I immediately left to drive to the hospital where Evan was being treated.
In a spirit of youthful optimism, I felt that if Evan knew I was by his bedside, he would rally, just as each of us could always get the other one to rally.
But this horrible disease was stronger than all of the prayers and love being sent to Evan. My parents and I watched the disease ravage Evan’s body, as gangrene set in on his arms and legs. We watched the machines monitoring Evan, willing the numbers to be stable, for some sign of improvement.
As Evan was transferred to a third hospital, a burn unit, we were told that Evan had a 1% chance of survival. I remember asking my mom about life after death. I didn’t understand how my brother could be so sick. Evan went in for surgery to try to save his life, and both arms and legs were amputated.
That still wasn’t enough.
I watched my brother, in a medically induced coma, lie in bed with stumps, his face and body bloated from kidney failure. I cried, I prayed, I begged. I would go listen to music in my car, to try to escape from the reality of what was happening.
Then, Evan suffered 10 hours of grand mal seizures, and that caused irreversible brain swelling, and a herniated brain stem.
My brother, who I loved so much, was brain dead.
We all watched as Evan was disconnected from life support, flat-lined, and carried away in a body bag. Those are my last images of my brother.
I missed that quarter of school, because Evan had been in the hospital almost a month. When I went back, it was with a renewed determination to be a doctor. I did get admitted to medical school, and when I graduated, I fist-pumped my arm, and said to myself, “Evan, I did this for both of us.”
I still talk to Evan, I still miss him so much, and I carry his memory with me everywhere. My daughter’s middle name is Evan. When I got married, I did not have a best man, because that spot was reserved for Evan.
When my parents and I found out that Evan’s death could have been prevented with a vaccine, that was being routinely used in the military, it just made no sense. Why hadn’t any of us been told about the vaccine?
Needless to say, I am a staunch vaccine advocate, and as a primary care physician, I make sure that all of my patients are up-to-date on all CDC-recommended vaccinations.
It really is your choice, and your life. Take control and protect yourself against infections by getting immunized.
by Ryan Bozof
Remember in 2009 and 2010 when that new strain of swine flu was everywhere? They called it a pandemic.
There were lots of people out of school that winter. Classrooms were half empty.
The vaccine manufacturers were hurrying to get a vaccine out for the public, but before that happened, I became infected.
For the first few days, I was really cold. Then I developed a fever and was aching all over. My throat was sore and I had typical cold symptoms, such as a stuffy nose and a headache. I was also tired all the time.
This went on for over a week.
The swine flu was hard on healthy young people like me, so my mom was pretty worried.
The vaccine finally became available and my sister was vaccinated. She didn’t get infected.
I didn’t have a choice to get vaccinated, because the vaccine wasn’t available.
I have a choice now, and I choose to be vaccinated against preventable diseases, like flu and measles and HPV.
by Paris Parnell
Hi, my name is Sam. I am an 18 year old senior getting ready to graduate from high school and head off to college in the fall. Staying healthy and having a full life is very important to me and my family. When I was 5 years old I lost my older sister, Abigale to a vaccine preventable disease and her dying has really changed my view on immunizations forever. Each year my family goes as a family and gets our flu shots. I have had the meningitis vaccination when I was younger and have also the series of shots for HPV vaccination even though males weren't required, but were recommend for vaccination of this sexually transmitted disease. I know I did my part to help protect my future girlfriend or wife.
It's smart to stay healthy during the flu season with a flu shot. It's smart to stay healthy while at college or while in the service with a meningitis shot. It's smart to think about the health of your partner with the HPV series of shots.
It's your choice and your body. Get immunized and stay healthy.
by Sam Peterson
Spread Knowledge, Not Disease!
Print out and post this one-pager as a reminder to your peers to take control of their health and get immunized!
PKIDs provides several different ads for you or your organization to download and submit to your local newspaper or other favorite print publication, or even to post on a bulletin board or share on social media. Encourage your friends to get immunized—it's the right thing to do!
Rest your mouse over a thumbnail below to see a preview of the ad; click on the thumbnail to view/download the ad in PDF format. Please feel free to either resize these ads yourself or ask the graphics folks at the publication to do so.
Please feel free to add your organization's name and contact info to the ad.
To learn more about specific diseases, visit PKIDs' website and the following organizations:
Our thanks to the CDC, NMA, FFF, and Novartis for their assistance with this program.
Information is the power
parents have over disease.