Parents who regret not vaccinating

Here is a collection of heartbreaking stories by families who suffered serious consequences of vaccine preventable diseases. Some parents had refused all or some shots due to fear of vaccine reactions, others had not gotten around to getting specific shots, while others suffered from a lack of vaccine availability at the time of the disease. If you come across more stories to add to this collection, please contact me via Twitter.


United Kingdom: Sarah Clow was unvaccinated against measles. She fell seriously ill with measles when she was 5 year old and was left with lasting disabilities including deafness, partial sight, learning difficulties and muscular hypotonia:

Sarah Clow’s story

United Kingdom: Lola, an unvaccinated 3-year-old, suffered permanent hearing damage as a result of measles:

Lola’s story

United Kingdom: Sarah Walton was unvaccinated against measles. She caught measles when she was 11 months old and at the time recovered well. Twenty four years later, however, she fell ill and was diagnosed with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE). SSPE is a persistent viral infection, a rare but devastating complication of measles which leads to a progressive destruction of the central nervous system:

Sarah Walton’s story


United States: Matthew’s parents decided not to vaccine him due to fears around vaccines. He contracted Hib at the age of 3 and nearly died. After the experience, his parents decided to bring him up-to-date on all his shots and share their experience with other vaccine-hesitant parents.

Matthew’s story

Marijean shares her story of losing her son to Hib meningitis

Congenital Rubella Syndrome

United Kingdom: Ian Capon’s mother contracted rubella while pregnant during the pre-vaccination era. As a result, Ian was born with congenital rubella syndrome, which usually causes one or more disabilities. In Ian’s case, CRS led to severe visual and hearing impairment.

Ian Capon’s story

United Kingdom: Edel contracted rubella while pregnant. Caretakers share the story of her daughter, Samantha, now a young adult who is deaf-blind and has learning disabilities as a result of being born with congenital rubella syndrome.

Samantha’s story

Meningococcal disease

United Kingdom: Five-year-old Charlotte Nott developed septicaemia through type B meningococcal disease. Her limbs died off and had to be amputated in hospital to save her life. At the time of Charlotte’s illness, the meningococcal vaccine was not yet available. Her mother, Jenny Daniels, talks about the devastating impact of the disease on Charlotte and the rest of her family.

Charlotte Nott’s story

United States: Jeri Acosta recounts the nightmare of losing her healthy 21-year-old son, Robert, to meningococcal meningitis.

Robert Acosta’s story

United States: Frankie Milley shares the story of losing her son, Ryan Wayne Milley, to meningococcal meningitis. Ryan had just graduated from high school.

Ryan Milley’s story

United States: Greg and Arlene Williams lost their son Nicolis to meningococcal meningitis. Jamie Schanbaum, a meningitis survivor, shares her story of living with the after effects of the disease.

The story of two college students

United States: Carl Buher shares his story of contracting meningococcal meningitis as a teenager and how it changed his life forever.

Carl Buher’s story

More videos


7-year-old Alijah Williams was unvaccinated due to his parents’ fears of vaccines. After contracting tetanus from a foot injuty, he was in critical condition in hospital for several weeks, after which he had to learn to walk and eat again as part of his recovery. After the experience, his parents became outspoken advocates for vaccines:

kAlijah Williams’ story



A 6-year-old boy from Spain, Pau, was unvaccinated since his parents refused vaccines. He contracted diphtheria and had to fight for his life with the help of intensive care. The parents reportedly felt “destroyed and cheated” by the anti-vaccination movement that convinced them not to immunize their son:

Pau’s story

Pneumococcal disease

United Kingdom: Sam Willis contracted pneumococcal meningitis when he was 9 months old and suffered brain damage as a result. At the time, the pneumococcus vaccine was not yet available. His father talks about the lasting effects of the disease, and the impact on the whole family.

Sam Willis’ story

United States: Dani Beth shares the story of losing her 12-year-old daughter Kaela Beth to pneumococcal meningitis, at a time when the pneumococcal vaccine was not yet available.

Kaela Beth’s story

United States: Leona Leong shares the story of almost losing her daughter to pneumococcal disease.


United States: The following mother shares her story of contracting pertussis from an unvaccinated child while pregnant. She soon gave birth and unknowingly passed pertussis onto her newborn, who nearly died from the disease:

A mother’s story

Toni and David McCaffery lost their baby daughter to pertussis
Natalie Norton lost her infant son, Gavin, to pertussis
Jane shares the story of her baby daughter’s near-fatal case of pertussis


United States: Rebecca caught chickenpox as an adult and became dangerously ill. Complications of chickenpox pneumonia left her with permanent scarring in her lungs:

Rebecca’s story

Jesse Lee contracted chickenpox pneumonia at the age of 9 and died
Nathan suffered a stroke as a result of chickenpox scar tissue in his brain
Adam caught chickenpox at the age of 7 which led to lifelong complications
Euan Harbottle contracted chickenpox at the age of 4 and died

Hepatitis B

United States: Anthony was diagnosed with liver cancer at the age of 31, caused by chronic hepatitis B. He contracted hepatitis B from his mother when he was born. Luckily, surgery cured Anthony of cancer. Unfortunately, his brother — who suffered from the same disease — died of liver cancer at the age of 42.

Anthony’s story

A range of women share the experience of living with hepatitis B
A family shares their struggle with hepatitis B

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