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Woman fights for meningitis vaccines for college students

August is National Immunization Awareness month and a Texas woman is fighting to get every college student in america protected from every strain of the disease. (Sinclair Broadcast Group)

August is National Immunization Awareness month and a Texas woman is fighting to get every college student in america protected from every strain of the disease.

Jamie Schanbaum lost her legs and part of her hands to a dangerous form of meningitis in college.

In our "Sinclair Cares" report, Delaine Mathieu talks with a woman about the disease that nearly killed her and the mission that keeps her fighting.

She's the voice for survivors of meningitis all over the world. 28-year-old Jamie Schanbaum has made a name for herself as the girl who's saving lives. "I didn't know it was a life-threatening disease and I didn't know that when you're on college campus, you're at a higher risk of catching it," said Jamie. "And I walked onto campus not knowing that and almost lost my life to the disease."

In 2008, as a student at the University of Texas at Austin, Jamie contracted Meningoccocal Meningitis -- an infection that attacks the tissue around the brain and spinal chord. "I was watching my limbs go from red rash within a couple of days, to purple to black, to rotting, to decaying with my fingers shriveled up like raisins," she told Delaine. "And my feet curled up like ballerinas

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She lost both legs below the knee, the majority of both hands and spent seven months in the hospital. Her mother went before the Texas legislature urging lawmakers to create a law requiring students who live on campus to get the meningitis vaccine. It passed. "I got meningitis C so that vaccine was available and i didn't know about it and if i had gotten it i would have been fine," she said.

But, even though it's typically spread in places like dormitories, Jamie got it while living *off* campus and knew more had to be done. So, in 2011, after the death of a Texas A&M student, who also lived off campus, she helped get the law amended to include *all* college students in Texas, period.

Jamie says her next mission is to get the law amended to include the meningitis B vaccine so that all five strains of meningitis are covered. This young girl, with an unstoppable attitude, refusing to let meningitis ruin her life -- or anyone else's.

Since 2011, immunization rates have gone up by 50% in Texas with more than 325,000 students getting vaccinated every year.

For information about Jamie's fight, visit her web page, thejamiegroup.org.

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