Help Children Conquer Their Fear to Protect Themselves – and Others

No one likes being sick or hearing about others—especially children—getting sick. Recent measles outbreaks in several states serve as reminders that each of us can help fight this highly contagious and fully preventable disease.

Judah Maccabee Goes to the Doctor, published by Apples & Honey Press, is a way to help young children understand that they can protect themselves and others. In the story, big brother Judah conquers his inner fear of getting a shot in order to shield his baby sister safe from dangerous germs, who’s too young to be vaccinated.

 Author Ann Koffsky said she wrote the book because “the more we read about the issue of vaccination, the more we learn that education is the key to people’s understanding of it. This book is a tool for families who wish to do just that: educate their kids about the importance of vaccines and explain why they work. As an author, and as a mom, I think giving our kids the information to better understand why they are getting a shot, which, let’s face it—hurts, is so important. They need to know the WHY.”

In the story, Judah wants to be a good big brother and even uses his new Maccabee shield to protect his sister, Hannah, from danger (falling snow, a hot stove). Then, during a visit to the doctor, Judah refuses to have his shot, convinced his shield can protect him from germs, too. The doctor explains (in kid-speak, of course) how vaccines and herd immunity work. And Judah realizes that his bravery can help himself and his sister.

Children cannot receive the measles vaccine before their first birthday, according to Dr. Robert Koppel, a neonatologist and pediatrician who consulted on the book. "Measles is extremely contagious and an unvaccinated person exposed to the disease has a 90 percent risk of becoming infected," he says. "Humans are the only host of the measles virus, and herd immunity (where over 95% of the population is immune) makes transmission of the virus from one person to another less likely.”

Storytelling offers a way for parents and teachers to help young children navigate the challenging experience of getting shots by connecting it to the Jewish value of guarding your health, shmor et nafshecha, and bravery, gevurah.

“I want kids to feel empowered and brave and awesome,”Koffsky said. “I want kids to understand that because they have the courage to get a shot, that they are helping to keep themselves healthy, and helping their whole community stay healthy, too.”

Find Judah Maccabee Goes to the Doctor here.

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