Personal Testimonies


Arthur Caplan

What must it be like to spend a huge amount of time every waking day trying to change public health practice, only to find out that you were wrong?

Betty Bumpers and Rosalynn Carter

As mothers and co-founders of the vaccine advocacy organization Every Child By Two, we are deeply concerned about a dangerous internet and media campaign being waged to undermine the use of vaccines.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton speaks on December 11, 2000, following a presentation by Rosalynn Carter.

Christine Roberts

A personal story from Christine Roberts, the parent of a child chronically infected with hepatitis B.

Claire Pomeroy

A personal story from Dr. Claire Pomeroy, president of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation.

David Keller

A personal story from David Keller, a physician and former chief of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program with the New Mexico Department of Health.

Gene Gangarosa

I am one of the increasingly rare old-timers who lived during the pre-vaccination era.

Vicki Brinsko

I am an infection control nurse practicing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Chickenpox (varicella)

Christopher Chinnes

I have faced the worst nightmare any parent can possibly face. There is no experience on earth that compares to the horror and devastation of losing a child.



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.

HPV (human papillomavirus)

Christine Baze

Christine Baze, a Boston musician and cervical cancer survivor, shares her personal story to educate women about human papillomavirus (HPV) and the importance of vaccination.

National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC)

HPV vaccine has potential to reduce worldwide cancer deaths by more than 200,000.

Hepatitis A

Allison Jester

High school student Allison Jester describes how a hepatitis A infection disrupted her senior year.


A traveling filmmaker reflects on the high cost of hepatitis A virus infection.

Hepatitis B

Adrian Elkins

Adrian’s sister writes about her brother’s death and his siblings’ determination to educate the public about hepatitis B.


This is the Congressional testimony of a pharmacist who writes in favor of universal hepatitis B vaccination for U.S. infants and all children ages 0-18.

Hsu Family

In the space of three years, college junior Leslie D. Hsu lost her brother and mother to hepatitis B-related liver cancer.

Joe Moakley

U.S. Congressman John Joseph Moakley from Massachusetts was gravely ill with hepatitis B virus infection but fortunately received a successful liver transplant.


Recounting a young doctor’s death from hepatitis B-related liver cancer, the story is a tragic example of the consequence of inadequate medical attention to people with chronic hepatitis B.


A medical student shares the details of her mother’s sudden death from hepatitis B.


No one should ever have to suffer through being infected with the hepatitis B virus—it is preventable with a series of three shots.

Physician Underscores the Importance of Hepatitis B Vaccine

My name is Keith Van Zandt, and I appreciate the opportunity to address this committee regarding hepatitis B vaccines.


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.


Dr. O’Brien wrote this gripping piece about the rapid deterioration in health of her patient Thomas, a 25-year-old graduate student suffering from acute hepatitis B infection.

Wise Family

This account of the Wise family exemplifies the toll undetected hepatitis B infection takes among Asian American/Pacific Islander immigrants and the serious consequences misinterpreted hepatitis B test results can have.

Hib (H. influenzae type b)

Helena Harding

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 encouraging parents to have their children immunized. Prior to her illness, her parents had no knowledge of Hib and the vaccine that prevents it.

Mary Catherine

A couple with serious concerns about the safety and morality of vaccination delayed immunizing their infant daughter. While they research their questions, their daughter is hospitalized with Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).

Sarah Archer

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.

Influenza (flu)

Amanda Kanowitz

The doctor said to keep her hydrated. But all children are not alike, some, like Amanda, are at risk for extreme reactions to the flu and other diseases.

Elizabeth Cover

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.

Emily Lastinger

The parents of Emily Lastinger recount the devastating loss of their young daughter to influenza.

Katie Bellovich

The story of Katie Bellovich, courtesy of Families Fighting Flu.

Martin McGowan

Diane and Mike McGowan’s healthy 15-year-old son, Martin, died from influenza-related complications in 2005. “One flu shot could have saved his life,” said Diane. “As his mother, I wish that he had been vaccinated.”


Claire Pomeroy

A personal story from Dr. Claire Pomeroy, president of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation.

Eileen Ouellette

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.

John Kiely

John Kiely 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.

Olivia Dahl

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.

The Problem

Measles (rubeola) is more than a red rash. It is a leading vaccine-preventable killer of children in the developing world.

The Sunday Times

Schoolboy, 13, dies as measles makes a comeback.


Jamie Schanbaum

Jamie Schanbaum lost her legs below the knee and her hands after a seven-month fight with bacterial meningitis.

John Fuller

Cadet John Fuller at the Virginia Military Institute describes how, within two days, he went from feeling fine to being in the intensive care unit, fighting meningococcal disease.

Joseph Kepferle

Joseph Kepferle’s father describes the pain of having a healthy college-aged son become ill and die within 24 hours of meningococcal meningitis.

Ryan Hokensmith

Ryan Hockensmith, a senior at Penn State majoring in journalism, writes about his three-week battle with meningococcal meningitis.

Ryan Milley

My name is Frankie Milley. This is my story of the needless death of my only child, Ryan, to a vaccine-preventable form of bacterial meningitis.



Linda writes about her elderly friend’s illness with pneumococcal pneumonia.

Jacob Newby

This article was written by Carla Newby, who lost her six-year-old son to pneumococcal meningitis.

Leo Wexler-Mann

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



Polio survivor recalls tragic loss of twin brother and classmates to the disease

Laura Lake

Polio victim entreats parents to say yes to vaccines.

Sharon Karber

Sharon Karber, a nurse working in public health, recalls the paralysis she suffered from polio when she was 3 years old in 1953. She describes her experience with this crippling vaccine-preventable disease and her subsequent struggles with and success at rehabilitation.


Matthys Family

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.

Peete Family

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.

Shingles (zoster)

FDA Magazine

Details on the complications from shingles, including rash, eye or skin problems, scarring, nerve paralysis, pneumonia, encephalitis, and death.

Tetanus (lockjaw)


In my quick exam of Eduardo, I hadn’t seen a scratch. I suspected tetanus, but there’s no definitive diagnostic test for the disease because the toxin hides away in the central nervous system.


Tetanus is far more than a “rusty nail” disease.

Yorkshire Post

After tetanus killed a woman after fall in her garden, her daughter speaks out to raise awareness of what could happen if people are not immunized.

Whooping cough (pertussis)

Colin Durkin

Pamela and Kevin Durkin write about the tragic death of their infant, Colin, due to whooping cough (pertussis).

Colin Enderlein

Mary-Clayton Enderlein recounts the suffering of her newborn son Colin endured during his life-and-death struggle with whooping cough (pertussis).

Nelyn Baker

Lynne Baker suspects she contracted whooping cough from a coughing customer in a bookstore about two weeks before giving birth to her son Nelyn.

Nick Morris

Thomas Morris describes the hospitalization of his preschool son, Nick, with whooping cough (pertussis).

Ramona & June

Ramona, a grandmother, describes her family’s experience when her 6-month-old granddaughter contracted pertussis from her.

Serena King

A month-old infant died of whooping cough last week in Austin, the first such death in Travis County in years and a reminder that the highly contagious disease is in the community and can kill babies.

This page was updated on .