I am a peds nurse and I work on step-down ICU/respiratory/cardiac monitoring unit. I have had more pertussis babies than I would like to think about. It's awful. No other word for it. I saw a grown man cry over the crib of his baby who was suffering so much with pertussis and could not get a break from the coughing, and could not eat, and was vomiting and had drool and snot pouring out of her mouth. From the start of treatment it takes at least a couple of days for this stage to pass. There is simply nothing you can do but continue to suction the baby's airways and hope they do not get bad enough to have to sedate and intubate.
I was pregnant with my first and had routine titres drawn up. I found out I was NOT immune to rubella for some reason. Had all my shots, just didn't take or something. If I had contracted rubella in the first half of the pregnancy, my daughter would have possibly been severely disabled. Because of the herd immunity that exists in our society I did not contract rubella and she is a bright, healthy child. I got the vaccination before I left the hospital after giving birth.
Varicella is not horrible for most people and it's one of those vaccines that I'm not a strongly for as some of the others. But I do believe that if people do not vaccinate for it, they need to make sure their child gets it sometime between preschool and early school age. My husband unfortunately got it in college and was extremely ill. He had to take off that semester, was almost hospitalized, and had the rash in places you can only imagine. He has scars from it, both physical and emotional.
Not vaccine-related but my kids great-grandma had rheumatic fever from strep. It affected her heart valves and she was so affected that when she got pregnant, they delivered the babies by c-section because they feared she would not live through the childbirths. This was in the 1950's, and antibiotics were not as widely used back then. The great-grandmother ended up getting a stroke from a blood clot originating in her faulty heart valves and it severely disabled her and finally killed her.
In Victorian times diphtheria, scarlet fever, and smallpox killed many children. They used to take photos of their children after death. It was common to lose kids in that time.