Kids’ anti-vax book

January 11, 2013 • 6:09 am

Talk about poisoning the well: there’s a new book out by Stephanie Messenger called Melanie’s Marvelous Measles.  It’s an anxi-vaxer book for kids! The Amazon page describes the contents:

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. Surprisingly, there were times when my unvaccinated children were blamed for their peers’ sickness. Something which is just not possible when they didn’t have the diseases at all. Stephanie Messenger lives in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and devotes her life to educating people about vaccine dangers and supporting families in their natural health choices. She has the support of many natural therapists and natural-minded doctors.

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Well, the book appears to have been inspired by anecdotes, but, as Salon (where I heard about this book) notes, measles is not a benign disease.  Here’s what the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC)  says:

Why is vaccination necessary?

In the decade before the measles vaccination program began, an estimated 3–4 million persons in the United States were infected each year, of whom 400–500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and another 1,000 developed chronic disability from measles encephalitis. Widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases in the United States compared with the pre-vaccine era.

However, measles is still common in other countries. The virus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly in areas where vaccination is not widespread. It is estimated that in 2006 there were 242,000 measles deaths worldwide—that equals about 663 deaths every day or 27 deaths every hour. If vaccinations were stopped, measles cases would return to pre-vaccine levels and hundreds of people would die from measles-related illnesses.

The CDC also reports (the link goes to a pdf summarizing various studies) that side effects from the vaccine are very rare, and previous reports that thimoseral (a preservative used in vaccines) causes “vaccine-related autism” (cf. Jenny McCarthy) have been shown to be completely wrong. (Thimoseral is no longer used anyway.)  Plus (my emphasis):

What are possible side effects of vaccination?

Each person is unique and may react differently to vaccination.

  • Occasionally, people who receive a vaccine do not respond to it and may still get the illness the vaccine was meant to protect them against.

  • In most cases, vaccines are effective and cause no side effects, or only mild reactions such as fever or soreness at the injection site.

  • Very rarely, people experience more serious side effects, like allergic reactions. Be sure to tell your health care provider if you have health problems or known allergies to medications or food.

  • Severe reactions to vaccines occur so rarely that the risk is difficult to calculate.

Fortunately, the commenters at Amazon aren’t falling for this book—perhaps the most dangerous children’s book around since, if read and used properly, it will result in deaths. Here’s the Amazon rating:

Picture 2Three comments; even the positive one is sarcastic!

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Picture 2

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h/t: Miss May

87 thoughts on “Kids’ anti-vax book

  1. Maybe this brilliant author will follow with “Billy’s Bodacious Polio.” The author obviously knows nothing of virology, biology, immunology, herd immunity, etc. I believe that another component of the anti-vaxers is the “The rules don’t apply to me” syndrome.

    1. Blame Shirley MacLaine and her nonsense about her (weird, nonsensical, at-odd-with-the-facts) reality being just as valid as your (evidence based) reality.

      I doubt her ideas were original, but she seems to have been Ground Zero for their modern spread.

      Complain to Amazon, people. Cut off this book’s air supply.

      1. Somehow, sadly, I feel as if the executives at Amazon won’t feel the urge to treat a book that advocates parents adopting behavior that puts their children at severe risk of being crippled or killed by dangerous diseases as being nearly offensive enough to justify removing from their inventory.

    1. Surely an A to Z series is in the works. It could include:
      Hippy Herbert’s Happy Hep
      Ronnie’s Ravishing Rabies
      Adam’s Awesome Aids

      And don’t forget the bonus rhyming bedtime story:
      SIDS is for Kids!

      1. And Harriet’s Helpful Herpes, leading in the absence of good medical care, to Charlene’s Charming Cervical Cancer.

  2. Simply horrible. Many people (including some rather good friends of mine) are misinformed as it is regarding the dangers of not vaccinating, the last thing the world needs is a book aimed at brainwashing children in believing the same anti-vaxer paranoia.

    And as if the subject matter weren’t bad enough, the artwork, judging from the cover, is simply atrocious. Five minutes spent on photoshop playing with a photograph is a rather lazy way to produce illustrations for a children’s book.

    1. Irresponsible. When there is an increase in the number of children with acquired deafness etc, perhaps the author could be sued by health departments & professional health workers…

    2. And re. the cover illustration, it appears that her parents have no problems with herbicides for their lawn.

    1. I read them all. There were about 4, maybe 5, actual positive reviews. The rest were mocking.

      Sort of gives me a glimmer of faith in humanity to see the book panned so. I had actually expected the opposite, hordes of adoring anti-vax zombies.

      1. I took a look at the site a few hours ago, and funnily enough all the reviews there were either negative or, if of four or five stars, actually just making fun of it. Yes, there is hope for humanity after all.

  3. This was the subject of some Twitter discussion in December. Annoyingly having looked at the record Amazon decided it was something I wanted & it kept appearing on my ‘home’ page until I actively deleted it.

  4. When are we going to get similar books campaigning against sewers?

    “Sarah’s super shitting out of the window”

  5. It is worth having a look at the comments for this book:


    “Can’t wait for the next couple of books in this thrilling series – the “Jimmy Savile Guide to Childcare” and “Babies and Knives – what’s the worst that could happen”.

    (For the non-UKers here Jimmy Saville was a TV personality who has been exposed a serial paedophile)

    1. “Children and Knives”

      I’m none too sure that would be a good fit in your proposed series. The Inuit are alleged to have let their kids use razor sharp knives for cutting up seals (etc), but I have the idea that the kids were carefully shown how to do it without getting cut, if this allegation is true.

      What would help would be a little flyer in the box with every new knife showing how to hold it and what to use it for, mit warnings such as “Do not use a carving knife to cut up lamb for curry. Use a chef’s knife.” That would have saved me a dinner time trip to the doctor to have a slice sewn up this time a year ago.

      1. As a side note, a Japanese study (natch! bushido culture!) showed that elderly people using knives to peel the skin off of potatoes, apples, etc., had a measurable lower rate of dementia!

        I forget whether “lower rate” meant later onset, or reduced the effects of someone already suffering from dementia. I think the effect was some sort of brain re-wiring that took place, activated by the (1) potential danger (2) need to concentrate intently and make judgments continuously.

        Alls I can tell you is, I’m peeling stuff every other hour, and my memory is fabulous! (jk).

  6. Ambling through Tavistock the other day, my 13 year-old stopped me and asked if she could give some ackers to a ‘Help Stop Cancer in Kids’ (or summat) charity-collector on the street.

    I of course agreed. Tucking into a rather pleasant pasty a few minutes later, we were horrified to read his natural therapy leaflet, rubbishing proper medicine, à la Messenger.

    Moral: ask a charity collector for further details before you donate.

    1. I make it a habit never to donate to people who approach me saying that they’re collecting for a charity. It’s too easy for somebody doing that to lie.

  7. On a more serious note. I once had a on-line row with somebody (a politician to be precise) who went on and on about freedom of choice in immunization. I shut him up by pointing out that smallpox in the first half of the 20th century killed more that ALL the wars of the last century combined and that the eradication of smallpox is, IMHO, the single biggest triumph of medical science ever.

    I have a personal reason for being so pro-immunization. When I was a kid, I had meningococcal meningitis foolowed by septacemia (lost a leg in the process) and since then I have been following the development of effective vaccinations against a whole variety of diseases – including meningitis – with a passion. I don’t want any other kid to go through what I did….

  8. I’m somehow reminded of the old Saturday Night Live sketch (original cast 1970s) of the “Natural Causes Restaurant” which only served meat from animals who had died of natural causes.

  9. It was so nice of the author to title her book the way she did, clearly inspired by Roald Dahl’s “George Marvelous Medicine”… a little research would have shown that Roald Dahl’s daughter died of MEASLES!

    I find the anti-vaccination crowd to be very dangerous indeed.

  10. Reblogged this on DownHouseSoftware and commented:
    My knee-jerk reaction to this book is to laugh at the foolishness of it all, but this is a very real issue that does nothing but undermine one of the most successful advances of modern medicine. I suppose I should be happy that we live in a world so free from debilitating infections that the side effects of vaccines are the worst health problems that we have to worry about and someone can actually propose such an idea.

  11. Reblogged this on Sarvodaya and commented:
    The ramifications of a book like this are very concerning. Not only could individual children die, but if enough people remain un-vaccinated, than herd immunity could weaken, meaning the disease could can momentum among the wider public. I’m glad it hasn’t received too much support.

  12. “Surprisingly, there were times when my unvaccinated children were blamed for their peers’ sickness. Something which is just not possible when they didn’t have the diseases at all.”

    Not so surprisingly, Messenger is ignorant of herd immunity. Free speech is great–though clueless authors can pen a book, so can many others pen scathing reviews at Amazon. But still, so depressing, that this book aimed at kids is what she chooses to do with her right of free speech.

      1. Ahh yes – the steam coming out of The University Med Center physical plant makes one forget all about those nasty mountains…

  13. By coincidence, I made my personal statement on the anti-vaxers yesterday: got my annual shot of flu vaccine.

    If I become hyper autistic and cease commenting here, I guess you’ll all know why. Of course it could also just be that because I didn’t get sick I went off to work every day and left the commenting to others.

  14. This review cracked me up: “I hope this will be a series, including “Pete’s Perfectly Paralyzing Polio,” “Stanley’s Stupefyingly Sterilizing Chicken Pox” and “Freddy’s Frightfully Fatal Flu.”
    And then the young adults series, starting with “Penelope’s Punishing Papillomavirus.””

  15. I also think that we shouldn’t limit children’s education to health issues. I envisage other useful titles exploring new horizons of adventurous lifestyle for kids: “Fun with Sharp Objects”, “Mom’s Medicine Cabinet”, “Where Is That Gun?” and the instant classic: “Let’s Not Be Afraid of Strangers”.

    Or we could just revert to all the wonderful products peddled by Mr. Irwin Mainway:

    Bag of Glass

      1. Well, it really looks like I’ve been banned from posting links to videos!
        But I haz tried to follow zee roolz!

        1. If this works you should be able to copy the code into a comment box and get the link you were hoping for:

          <a href=”″>Bag of Glass</a>

          1. And that seems to have worked. Apparently only video URLs that are on a separate line become embedded. So if you don’t put carriage returns around the URL, it just becomes a link…

              1. Or you can put the link inside an “A” tag like Jerry explained how to do yesterday.

                That’s exactly what I did in my first post referring to the SNL skit. I tested the html on another site and it lead to the Bag of Glass video on HULU, as intended. I have no idea what happened here (but this is not the first time that html tags didn’t work for me on WordPress).

                Anyway, I’d like to thank Aspidoscelis for the working link.

              2. Yeah, tried that. Didn’t work. As I said above, it gives a “method not allowed” error.

                It would appear that creating links in WordPress is not as simple as just using the “a” tag.

  16. This is sickening! In more than thirty years of medical practice the most distressing patients I encountered were adults dying from Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (the human variety of ‘mad cow disease’) and rabies. Even worse were the children dying from post-measles encephalitis.

    1. 2 or 3 out of 1,000 children with measles will simply die.

      We had one here, not so long go.

      The parents weren’t even anti-Vaxxers. They were immigrants and someone dropped the ball somewhere.

      It was actually subactue sclerosing panencephalitis. It took months for the kid’s brain to deteriorate and shut down.

  17. Stephanie Messenger has been flogging her fruitloop ideas for about 30 years, mainly selling her “natural health products” to small meetings of similarly minded folk (including a mattress cover that provides “100% protection from SIDS) in her stomping ground, south-east Queensland. It should be noted that the only recent large outbreak of measles in Australia (2 years ago) was at a school in SE Queensland, where the MMR vaccination rate was found to be way below the national average (which is > 94%)

    The reason she’s suddenly come to broader attention is that an American publisher picked up this title, which was previously a self-published item in her product line. Quite apart from anything else, the cover showing a child with measles running around outside is profoundly irresponsible and grounds enough to withdraw this title.

  18. “…Having raised three children vaccine-free and childhood disease-free,…”

    lol. Well certainly can’t argue with that! She’s got an N of 3! haha

    1. Wow.

      Messenger is apparently now trying to sell her book in the US because she can no longer sell it in her home country.

      1. Not quite right. This was a self-published book that nobody noticed until it was picked up by an American publisher, and it is this version that has attracted attention by appearing on online bookseller sites.

        Will Amazon follow Bookworld’s lead and de-list?

        1. Which American publisher are you referring to? I believe it is still ONLY a self-published book if the publisher you mean is Trafford Publishing

          HERE is their FAQ. Trafford is a print-on-demand vanity publisher where the author assumes all the risk & must also do their own marketing

          I particularly enjoyed the page on their site called The Trafford Advantage ~ one of many gems there:-

          We all want and need validation. As writers, the best validation that can be received is a positive book review. Manuscripts of authors who purchase our Gold Seal Premium service will be submitted to the industry’s highly respected independent book reviewing companies. Those that will receive a favorable feedback will be given the “Gold Seal of Literary Excellence.” This prestige carries with it a host of complimentary services.

          Their Bookstore [same site] is also worth a look. The content evokes fluffy nothingness [best description I can come up with ~ the feeling of emptiness I get when I browse a Christian book shop]

          1. “I believe it is still ONLY a self-published book if the publisher you mean is Trafford Publishing”

            Okay. So it’s gone from an Australian vanity publisher to an American one, which is how it ended up on the online lists.

        2. Remember you can sell anything on “SellerCentral” on Amazon. And, a book on SellerCentral will look like any other object (hammer, drill bit, CD, overcoat, beauty stuff) sold on Amazon, yet have the appearance of a book endorsed as “worthy” on Amazon. So, Amazon has no literary control.

  19. They could publish a kids book written by a real doctor.

    Her kids are not sick!
    Her kids are all dead!
    And all ’cause their mommy,
    is sick in the head.

  20. You would be surprised how many people believe there is some truth to the ‘vaccines cause autism’ nonsense. Despite me telling them that the one paper that showed some evidence for that was retracted because the investigator made up the data still doesn’t remove their hesitations.

    “But look at how the rates of autism are increasing!”, they say, not knowing that we couldn’t even really label someone autistic until very recently (they were all ‘mentally retarded’ not too long ago). It’s like discovering a new form of cancer – of course the rates are going to increase since you can only go ‘up’ from zero.

    I place the blame solely on wholesale ignorance of science by the vast majority of the public.

    1. Also, Wakefield,the idiot who started the whole autism vaccine link hysteria, didn’t advocate for not vaccinating. He wanted the MMR to be given separately because he was developing the system for doing so. It’s worth noting that he is barred from practicing medicine in the UK.

      1. IIRC, the investigation into Wakefield’s malpractice revealed that he had a financial interest in the matter; and that his results had been clearly and obviously falsified. The man is a crook, pure and simple, no better than the anti-gay crowd who are in it strictly for the money, without regard for the harm they cause.

  21. Another 5 star review from [entire quote is sic]:

    Lets face it, with increasingly improved healthcare, humanity is in a bit of a quandary.

    No longer can we rely on survival of the fittest to weed out the more feeble specimens, both physically and mentally. Instead, books like this are needed. They help by naturally regulating the seriously idiotic among us by encouraging them not to divulge in the various assorted medical remedies available.

    Now, if the author could provide a fitness book which encouraged a keep fit regime involving flying kites on cliff edges or under electricity pylons, they would have effectively covered all bases, and some sort of Noble award should be in the offing.

    I think a Darwin Award is what’s required.

  22. Writing with a small sample (N = 3) of my own I am, as always, appalled by the attitude taken by the author based on no sample at all. My brother died of measles and complications thereof at age 10. My sister and I also had measles and lived. Measles and mumps are not to be taken lightly. Currently the country is learning the hard way that ignoring flu shots is not such a good idea. But ours is a society of misinformation and its dissemination on a massive scale on the web. The best information in the world is also out there but sorting it out requires a certain amount of smarts and discrimination.

  23. To be appropriately cautious requires so little these days, a bike helmet, a vaccination, putting on a seatbelt. I remember a friend’s daughter was scootering down the driveway without a helmet and I mentioned it. He felt the risk was low but I got to him by mentioning that you only get to bury your child once and I suspect although the chance is low for death, it is an experience you’d probably like to avoid experiencing. His response to me was to ask if I had any friends besides himself. Ha!

  24. After the recent tax embarrassment in the UK, Amazon will be sensitive to a boycott.

    Is anyone with more spunk than me willing to push one?

  25. This new-agey mind over matter nonsense must stop. Reminds me of Dawkins excellent documentary Enemies of Reason: The Irrational Health Service.

    1. I will just leave a quote from the wonderful Issac Asimov.

      ‘Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’.

      1. “And they are a strong and frightening force, impervious to, and immunized against, the feeble lance of mere reason.” -Isaac Asimov

  26. You missed the first 5 star review:
    51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
    Looking forward to Penelope’s Pleasant Plague, January 9, 2013
    By Mommy Instincts Trump Doctors
    This review is from: Melanie’s Marvelous Measles (Paperback)
    This book is fantastic. All these years, I’ve been misled by the OH SO SMART doctors and scientists, who always talk down to me. I’ve read about how honey cures pretty much everything, and homeopathic remedies are the only thing that works for my non-specific symptoms of discomfort, but I had no idea that disease itself was a good thing!

    As soon as I get back from my chakra re-alignment session, and pick up my kids from their “My first psychic” classes, I’m taking them straight to a nearby pox party, where hopefully they’ll contract a few new diseases! The way I see it, if they go blind or die, it was meant to be. No more silly, man-made interference with nature for my family!

    Oh, I’d better get going! It’s a long walk without one of those silly man-made contraptions (internal combustion engine? More like internal corruption engine!). I hope the blizzard lets up soon.

  27. Having had measles encephalitis when I was 6 and survived without a disability, you can imagine how pro-vaccination I am.  Luckily we lived next door to a doctor.  He and his family had gone on a picnic and forgotten the can opener.  He returned for the can opener just when I went into convulsions.  “See,” my mom always said, “that proves that God was watching out for you.”  “Yes, Mom, but he didn’t have to give me the measles in the first place.”   Christine Brean


  28. A couple of local (Australian) articles about this rather disgusting bit of anti science propaganda:

    As an Australian, I would to apologise to you on behalf of my nation for Stephanie Messenger, as well as Ken Ham and Rupert Murdoch (ironically, the publisher of the website linked to above.)

  29. A little side story. I was in Infantry basic training in 1957-58. In every basic training unit, soldiers would come down with measles,and other childhood disease. I caught the mumps, and spent two weeks in the base hospital contagious ward. Another fellow and I were in the mumps room. After we were no longer contagious, we helped the ward Sargent with the twenty or so measles cases. They wanted to do nothing but sleep. We would wake them up ever four hours to give them a pill.

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