A Jewish Story to Help Explain Vaccines to Children

A boy goes to doctor and refuses to get his shot, convinced his toy shield can protect him from germs.

When his father points out that his baby sister is too young for her vaccines, the boy agrees to get his shot so he won't pass diseases to her. He cries, briefly.

The boy's name is Judah, and is feels proud to learn that his namesake, Judah Maccabee, was also a brave and strong warrior on behalf of his family and other Jews.

Judah Maccabee Goes to the Doctor, by Ann D. Koffsky, is a story that offers a pathway to explaining how vaccines protect us and also the vulnerable people around us. Having a child-friendly way to broach tough subjects goes a long way to promoting feelings of security for kid. 

The book is a favorite of Blima Marcus, an oncology nurse who has attracted national attention for her efforts around vaccine education, particulary in ultra-Orthodox communities. She recently spoke about her work as a public health educator to the Association of Jewish Libraries, where she highlighted the book as "wise, creative, and empathic." She noted that her own children love the book for its depiction of the sibling relationship, particularly where the baby sister knocks down Judah's block tower. Read the full interview about vaccines with Blima Marcus here.

The story is a vehicle for learning about what a vaccine is and what it's for, and how our actions can protect others, including young siblings who are too young to get vaccinated themselves.

The Jewish Book Council review noted that "The story can be enjoyed year-round to help young readers gain some courage before their shots. It can also be used to discuss Pirkei Avot 4:1: 'Who is a hero, a gibor? The one who conquers his own fears.' "


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