The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

February 28, 2014

Jessica Elkins Act moves to House for approval

— The Jessica Elkins Act, legislation introduced by Sen. Tammy Irons, D-Florence, passed the Alabama Senate this week. It now goes to the House for final approval.

The legislation — Senate Bill 75 — reads that if a local board of education provides information on immunizations, infectious diseases, medications and other school health issues to parents and students in sixth through 12th grade, then certain information regarding meningococcal meningitis disease and its vaccine shall also be provided. The information would include a description of the causes, symptoms and means of transmission of the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccination is recommended for all 11- and 12-year-olds. While anyone can contract the disease, teenagers and young adults have the highest risk.

“It is my hope and desire that this bill will save lives,” Irons said.

Irons credited Michelle Elkins, Jessica Elkins mother, and her determination to help bring awareness to the rare and sometimes fatal disease.

Since Jessica’s death on Dec. 26, 2007, Michelle has worked tirelessly so other families would not have to experience the same pain her family experienced. She joined the National Meningitis Association’s “Mom’s on Meningitis” program.

According to Sen. Irons, Michelle’s passion for turning a tragedy into something positive caught her attention.

“It is my goal to educate other families in Alabama on all aspects of meningococcal meningitis — from its causes, symptoms and means of transmission to the available vaccines and the importance of immunizations,” Michelle said.

Jessica’s story

On Dec. 21, 2007, Jessica Elkins, a junior varsity cheerleader and student at Athens High School, was looking forward to enjoying the Christmas holiday break with family and friends. She completed her final exams at school and joined her sister for lunch at a local restaurant. While at lunch, she started experiencing pain in her hips and legs and left the restaurant to wait in the car.

When she got home, the pain became worse and Jessica was taken to the doctor who diagnosed her with the flu and advised her to get some rest. That night the pain became worse.

Michelle noticed a quarter size bruise on Jessica’s hip and upon closer inspection she noticed purple spots all over her body. She took Jessica to another doctor who recognized the purple marks as a sign of meningococcal meningitis.

Jessica was immediately taken to the emergency room where the diagnosis was confirmed. She was subsequently airlifted to a hospital for treatment.

By Dec. 23, 2007, Jessica had developed pneumonia and on Christmas Eve, she was connected to a breathing machine. Christmas Day her kidneys began to fail and she died the following day.

Jessica was scheduled to have her vaccination for meningitis in March 2008.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
Photos


Poll

Which foreign crisis is the biggest threat to the security of the United States?

Russia-Ukraine
Israel-Palestine
Iraq
None of the above
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee