Vaccine Information You Need
Infant and Child Vaccines
Personal Testimonies
Infant and Child Vaccines: Personal Testimonies

Stories of Suffering and Loss

Amanda Kanowitz - influenza
The parents of Amanda Kanowitz recount the devastating loss of their young daughter to influenza.
>> read Amanda's story
Colin Durkin - whooping cough
Pamela and Kevin Durkin write about the tragic death of their infant, Colin, to whooping cough (pertussis).
>> read Colin's story
Colin Enderlein - whooping cough
Mary-Clayton Enderlein recounts the suffering of her newborn son Colin endured during his life-and-death struggle with whooping cough (pertussis).
>> read Colin's story
Eileen Ouellette - measles
In this personal account, Dr. Ouellette vividly describes her own experience with measles infection in 1937. As an eight-year-old girl, she suffered for days with an extremely high fever from measles.
>> read Eileen's story
Elizabeth Cover - influenza
In December 2003, Colorado experienced its worst influenza epidemic in years. Among the influenza-related fatalities that month was Elizabeth Terese Cover, who died from complications of influenza weeks before her second birthday.
>> read Elizabeth's story
Emily Lastinger - influenza
The parents of Emily Lastinger recount the devastating loss of their young daughter to influenza.
>> read Emily's story
Frankie - Polio
Polio survivor recalls tragic loss of twin brother and classmates to the disease
>> read Frankie's story
Helena Harding - Hib
Two months after 18-month-old Helena Harding was hospitalized with Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), her parents publicized her ordeal with the hope of educating others about the disease and of encouraging parents to have their children immunized. Prior to her illness, her parents had no knowledge of Hib and the vaccine that prevents it.
>> read Helena's story
Jacob Newby - pneumococcal
This article was written by Carla Newby, who lost her six-year-old son to pneumococcal meningitis.
>> read Jacob's story
John Kiely - measles
The author relates his personal experience with measles and reminds us that vigilance in maintaining high levels of vaccination coverage is necessary to prevent measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases from making a comeback.
>> read John's story
Katie Bellovich - influenza
The story of Katie Bellovich, courtesy of Families Fighting Flu
>> read Kate's story
Laura Lake - polio
Polio victim entreats parents to say "yes" to vaccines
>> read Laura's story
Leo Wexler-Mann - pneumococcal
A three-year-old underwent two days of emergency room visits and a four-day hospital stay being treated for pneumococcal pneumonia, sepsis, and pleural effusions
>> read Leo's story
Lois - diphtheria
A public health nurse discusses the death of her young cousin from diphtheria in 1961, and the subsequent serious illness she and family members experienced.
>> read Lois's story
Mary Catherine - Hib
A couple with serious concerns about the safety and morality of vaccination delay immunizing their infant daughter. While they research their questions, their daughter is hospitalized with Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).
>> read Mary's story
Matthys Family - rotavirus
Brooke Matthys describes the painful realization that if only she had taken the time to get her children vaccinated against rotavirus, this ordeal for her family could have been prevented.
>> read the Matthys family's story
The Problem from the Measles and Rubella Initiative - measles
Measles (rubeola) is more than a red rash. It is a leading vaccine-preventable killer of children in the developing world.
>> read the Measles and Rubella Initiative's story
Nelyn Baker - whooping cough
Lynne Baker suspects she contracted whooping cough from a coughing customer in a bookstore about two weeks before giving birth to her son Nelyn.
>> read Nelyn's story
Nick Morris - whooping cough
Thomas Morris's describes the hospitalization of his preschool son, Nick, with whooping cough (pertussis).
>> read Nick's story
Olivia Dahl - measles
In 1962, Roald Dahl (author of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and other beloved books for children and young adults) suffered a heartbreaking loss: the death of his 7-year-old daughter Olivia from the complications of measles encephalitis.
>> read Olivia's story
Peete Family - rotavirus
Actress Holly Robinson Peete describes her experience as the mother of a toddler with rotavirus infection. While on a family vacation, Holly's son became extremely ill with profuse vomiting and dehydration.
>> read the Peete family's story
PKIDs - hepatitis B
Physician underscores the importance of hepatitis B vaccination at birth in this testimony presented before the U.S. House of Representatives. Dr Zandt, a member of the organization PKIDs (Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases), represented his family and all of the families at PKIDs whose children have been affected by vaccine-preventable diseases.
>> read PKIDs's story
Ramona & June - whooping cough
Ramona, a grandmother, describes her family's experience when her 6-month-old granddaughter contracted pertussis from her.
>> read Ramona's story
Sarah Archer - Hib
A busy mother procrastinates about getting her daughter's Hib vaccination. She describes the anguish of watching her 2-year-old's near-fatal illness.
>> read Sarah's story
Serena King - whooping cough
On April 30, baby Serena Gabrielle King, only 27 days old, succumbed to whooping cough in Austin, Texas.
>> read Serena's story
Sharon Karber - polio
Sharon Karber, a nurse working in public health, recalls the paralysis she suffered from polio at age three years in 1953. She describes her experience with this crippling vaccine-preventable disease and her subsequent struggles with and success at rehabilitation.
>> read Sharon's story
Disclaimer: The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) publishes personal testimonies for the purpose of making them available for our readers' review. Please note that information in the testimonies may be outdated and may not reflect the current immunization schedule or recommendations.
Infant and Child Vaccines
Infant and Child Home
Vaccines You Need
Personal Testimonies
>> Amanda Kanowitz - influenza
>> Colin Durkin - whooping cough
>> Colin Enderlein - whooping cough
>> Eileen Ouellette - measles
>> Elizabeth Cover - influenza
>> Emily Lastinger - influenza
>> Frankie - Polio
>> Helena Harding - Hib
>> Jacob Newby - pneumococcal
>> John Kiely - measles
>> Katie Bellovich - influenza
>> Laura Lake - polio
>> Leo Wexler-Mann - pneumococcal
>> Lois - diphtheria
>> Mary Catherine - Hib
>> Matthys Family - rotavirus
>> Measles and Rubella Initiative - measles
>> Nelyn Baker - whooping cough
>> Nick Morris - whooping cough
>> Olivia Dahl - measles
>> Peete Family - rotavirus
>> PKIDs - hepatitis B
>> Ramona & June - whooping cough
>> Sarah Archer - Hib
>> Serena King - whooping cough
>> Sharon Karber - polio
View All Personal Testimonies
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More Real Life Stories
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Personal stories about vaccine-preventable diseases
Families Fighting Flu
Families Fighting Flu
Emotional stories of families whose lives have been permanently altered by influenza
NFID: Real Stories, Real People
Real Stories, Real People
Search collection of stories about vaccine-preventable diseases by disease, age group, and state
National Meningitis Association
National Meningitis Association
Features the stories of meningococcal disease survivors and families
Eight families affected by vaccine-preventable diseases share their stories
Shot by Shot
Shot by Shot
Stories of vaccine-preventable diseases from the California Immunization Coalition
The Forgotten Story
Texas Children's Hospital
The Forgotten Story profiles families devastated by vaccine-preventable disease
Vaccinate Your Family
Vaccinate Your Family
People who have lost family members to these devastating, avoidable diseases share their stories
This page was updated on July 16, 2021.
This page was reviewed on July 16, 2021.
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