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:
United Kingdom: Lola, an unvaccinated 3-year-old, suffered permanent hearing damage as a result of measles:
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:
- Roald Dahl’s 7-year-old daughter Olivia died of measles encephalitis at a time when the measles vaccine was not yet available
- Aliana fell ill with measles when she was 6 months old during a measles epidemic in Germany. Some years later, she developed SSPE
- Angelina developed SSPE as a result of childhood measles
- As a baby, Natalie contracted measles from an unvaccinated child. She came down with SSPE 7 years later and died due to organ failure
- Two children contracted measles from the same unvaccinated child. They developed fatal SSPE later on in life
- Max caught measles as a baby and died of SSPE 20 years later
- An unvaccinated toddler died in a measles outbreak in Germany
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.
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.
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.
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.
United States: Jeri Acosta recounts the nightmare of losing her healthy 21-year-old son, Robert, to meningococcal meningitis.
United States: Frankie Milley shares the story of losing her son, Ryan Wayne Milley, to meningococcal meningitis. Ryan had just graduated from high school.
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.
United States: Carl Buher shares his story of contracting meningococcal meningitis as a teenager and how it changed his life forever.
- Tracey Chambers talks about the effects of meningococcal meningitis on her daughter Courteney (graphic imagery)
- Amputee Amy Purdy’s inspirational story after a near-death experience with meningitis (graphic imagery)
- Lori Pickinpaugh lost her daughter Rachelle to meningococcal meningitis at the age of 24
- Ashley Lee tells her story of contracting meningococcal meningitis as a young adult
- Sherry shares her story of losing her 16-year-old son Matthew to meningococcal disease
- Tyler Johnson and his mom share his story of surviving meningitis
- Bob and Dee Dee Warner lost their 20-year-old daughter, Becky, to meningococcal meningitis
- Nick Springer contracted meningococcal meningitis as a young adult and had his limbs amputated as a result of the disease
- John Kach lost limbs due to meningococcal meningitis
- Linda and Dwight Fryer lost their 17-year-old daughter, Adrienne, to meningococcal meningitis
- Cindy Krejny lost her 19-year-old daughter, Erin, to meningococcal meningitis
- Suzanne Schoelen lost her 10-year-old son, Braden, to meningococcal meningitis
- Olga shares the story of losing her-13-year old son, David, to meningitis
- Lynn Bozof describes losing her 20-year-old son, Evan, to meningococcal meningitis (graphic imagery)
- Robin Holland lost her son Thomas to the disease
- Mike LaForgia shares his story as a survivor of meningococcal meningitis
- Leslie Maier’s 17-year-old son Chris died as a result of meningococcal meningitis
- Kayla St Pierre lost limbs as a result of meningococcal meningitis
- Jeri Greenwell lost her adult son to meningococcal disease
- Francesca Testa contracted bacterial meningitis while in high school
- Samantha Bennett shares her experience of contracting meningococcal disease as a 9 month old
- Clare Hoang shares thestory of losing her 3-year-old son Phoenix to the disease
- Cathy Mayfield lost her 18-year-old daughter to meningococcal meningitis
- Carol Tufano’s 18-year-old daughter contracted meningococcal disease and lost limbs to the disease
- Katie Mayberry Hauser contracted meningococcal disease while at college and was lucky enough to survive without serious complications
- Several families share their ordeals with meningococcal meningitis
- Two families share how meningococcal disease affected them
- MaryJo Aglubat Kwett died from meningococcal meningitis at the age of 15 (written)
- Lacey shares the story of losing her 3-year-old son, Landan, to meningococcal meningitis (written)
- Harmonie-Rose Allen lost four limbs to meningoccocal septicemia as a baby, at a time when the meningitis B vaccine was not yet available to the public
- Grace Matthews lost her legs when she contracted meningitis at the age of 3
- Leanne Davis describes nearly losing her 10-month-old son to meningococcal septicemia
- Sarah Lockey describes her daughter’s ordeal with meningitis B at a time when the vaccine was not yet available
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
United States: Rebecca caught chickenpox as an adult and became dangerously ill. Complications of chickenpox pneumonia left her with permanent scarring in her lungs:
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
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.