A beautifully illustrated book promoting a positive message about vaccination to children, highlighting the resilience and impact of a vaccine-preventable disease and the bravery required to protect ourselves and those most vulnerable among us. All in rhyme and accompanied by bright illustrations, the tale is of a young girl who is being followed by a cheeky, impertinent virus monster that is set to ensnare her and make her sick. But the young girl knows that if she gets sick, then her grandma and baby sister could get really sick and maybe even die, so she decides to be a superhero and get her vaccinations so that she can protect herself and her family.
The Measly Virus is dedicated to Riley Hughes, a four-week-old baby who tragically died on 17th March 2015 as a result of contracting Pertussis (Whooping Cough). To honour Riley’s memory, part-proceeds from all book sales will go toward supporting Pertussis research and vaccination initiatives at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth, Western Australia.
Targeted Age Group:: 4-8
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
In March 2015, a four-week-old baby named Riley Hughes died in my hometown of Perth, Western Australia from Pertussis (more commonly known as Whooping Cough). I was mortified to hear that an infant in this day and age could possibly die of a historic disease; something I thought had been eradicated from Australia (if not the world) long ago. So I did some research, and was horrified to learn of the existence of an increasing population of vaccine objectors that were present not only in Australia but all over the world.
It was scary to learn that the cohort leading this anti-vaccine movement stands firmly against the science of vaccination, spouts misinformation that embellishes the risks and ignores the benefits of vaccines, and encourages hesitant parents down a path of confusion, anxiety and inaction. It is unacceptable to me that vaccine-preventable disease is reemerging because of low vaccination rates, and that vulnerable people like Riley are dying as a result.
For me, hearing of Riley’s death brought home the fact that a vaccine-preventable disease is not a harmless illness, but instead an indiscriminant, resilient, and deadly force that can only be stopped by herd immunity created through high vaccination rates. After all, what hope do vulnerable babies and sick immunosuppressed people have if the community can’t shield them? And the thought that Riley’s fate could just as easily have been the fate of one of my daughters inspired me to take positive action and write The Measly Virus.
I believe that by providing children with an understanding of the concept of herd immunity and how vaccinations save lives, an opportunity is created to stem the flow of future vaccination objectors. I want to help create a future where babies like Riley are safe from vaccine-preventable diseases.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
There are two characters in my book – the virus monster and the young girl he is hunting – both of which were brought beautifully to life by my illustrator Laura Watson. The intent was to create a monster that wouldn’t scare kids, but would be creepy and horrible enough for kids to want him to lose. I chose a female protagonist to honour my little girls, who both enjoy reading books and are super brave and courageous too.
He’s a menace that hides in plain sight…
I can’t see him but I know that he’s there,
he’s evil and cunning and tiny
and can fly on the dust in the air!
He enjoys hitching rides on buses
or travelling by train, plane, or car…
he’s not fussy about how he gets around
but he likes to roam wide and far.
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