Andy Marso was about to graduate from college when he was infected with meningococcal B. He almost died. But, he was one of the lucky ones. A decisive friend, an astute college health doctor and a dedicated critical care team made the difference in Andy’s case. Sadly, for many young people infected with bacterial meningitis, even the right people at the right time are not enough to afford them another day.

In Worth the Pain: How Meningitis Nearly Killed Me — Then Changed My Life for the Better, Andy shares the pain he endured, the tough decisions he had to make and the emotional hardships of his experience. He also shares the experience from the perspective of his immediate family members, particularly during the early days of his illness which he spent in a drug-induced coma.

For most parents and young adults, having heard of meningococcal meningitis is enough to motivate them to get vaccinations that are offered to prevent it. Unfortunately, some do not realize these vaccines are available and in the case of meningococcal B, the opportunity may never be presented. Indeed, meningococcal B vaccines are recommended for all 16- to 18- year-olds, but for a variety of reasons, not all providers are offering or educating about it. Most teens and young adults are lucky — they aren’t vaccinated and they don’t get meningococcus, but for the few who do, their lives and those of their families are forever changed. Andy has chosen to focus on the positive outcomes of his infection, but reading about his 24 days in intensive care, three months in the burn unit, three weeks of inpatient rehab, and his ultimate choice between trying to live the life he had planned or embrace his “new life” will motivate teens, parents and providers alike. Fitting those two or three shots into the hectic schedule of teens will seem easy compared to what Andy endured and making that small chance even smaller will become a priority after reading Andy’s account.

Andy and his mom now advocate for meningococcal vaccinations. As spokespersons for the National Meningitis Association, they and other advocates speak to groups around the country about their experiences with this disease. Find out more or request a speaker on the National Meningitis Association’s website.

Worth the Pain is available from common booksellers:

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.