Thursday, February 14, 2013

Anti-Vaccination Messages Targeted To Children

Stephanie Messenger is an Australian anti-vaccine activist and self-published author.  She recently published a children’s book, the title is Melanie’s Marvelous Measles.

According to Messenger’s website, she wrote the book to:  “Educate children on the benefits of having measles and how you can heal from them naturally and successfully. Often today, we are being bombarded with messages from vested interests to fear all diseases in order for someone to sell some potion or vaccine, when, in fact, history shows that in industrialized countries, these diseases are quite benign and, according to natural health sources, beneficial to the body.”

Unfortunately, the message that Messenger missed was that measles is responsible for thousands of tragic deaths each year.  These deaths could be prevented through vaccination.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2011 there were 158,000 deaths from measles, or 18 deaths per hour. 

WHO also states that measles vaccination resulted in a 71% drop in measles deaths worldwide between 2000 and 2011.  However, 158,000 deaths a year for a disease we have a vaccination for is unacceptable.  Measles is a highly contagious virus and most of those who died were children under the age of five.  There is nothing marvelous about measles.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the game company Tiltfactor has been using games to educate people about vaccinations.  Previously, Tiltfactor had developed a game called Pox to address misinformation about vaccines and recently introduced zombie-themed games. 

In addition to Pox, Tiltfactor now has a zombie invasion board game, an iPad app and a card game.  In each of the games, players figure out which people need to be vaccinated to slow the spread of the zombies.  To date the board game and card game have been the most popular, and the most effective at raising awareness about vaccinations.

Children's books and games have the potential to educate parents and kids about the value of vaccination. These opportunities should be capitalized on to answer questions and relieve unnecessary fears. Anti-vaccination messages delivered in children's books are a whole new face of the Anti-Vaccine movement that should not go unanswered. 

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