Anti-vaccine book tells kids to embrace measles

A new children's book introduces kids to the "wonderful world of illness"

Published January 7, 2013 10:49PM (EST)


Measles is responsible for thousands of tragic (and preventable) deaths each year. Which is perhaps why so many reviewers are panning a new (and apparently self-published) book by Stephanie Messenger, an Australian author and anti-vaccine activist. According to the author's page, "Melanie's Marvelous Measles" was written 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. Having raised three children vaccine-free and childhood disease-free, I have experienced many times when my children's vaccinated peers succumb to the childhood diseases they were vaccinated against.

Amazon reviewers have not taken kindly to Messenger's suggestion that measles can be an "adventure," either. As one recently wrote:

Isn't Melanie lucky that she didn't get pneumonia from her measles like 1 in 15 children (7%) do? I had measles when I was a toddler in the 1950s before there was a measles vaccine available. I was in hospital in an oxygen tent for over a week with bilateral pneumonia when I had measles.

And another:

I can only presume that the author was born after the successful vaccination programme made people complacent about the dangers of measles. I was not so lucky. In the epidemic of my childhood I was nearly blinded, and still have scars on my eyeballs. I was the lucky member of the family; my sister died from complications. Measles kills children. This book is irresponsible and misleading at best. At worst it could lead to the death of a child.

Messenger's title seems to allude to the Roald Dahl book, "George's Marvelous Medicine." Dahl, however, was a strong proponent of vaccination, a position rooted in the tragic death of his young daughter from measles.

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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