Should Cartoons Join the Vaccine Debate?

My kids watch TV while I'm working, and while I usually tune it out, sometimes I hear certain words that grab my attention. Lately I heard "fight the flu", "flu vaccinations" and "naturopathy." Okay.

I suppose some children's show writers took it upon themselves to discuss health with the kids, but with a wide discrepancies in messages from different shows. Sid the Science Kid, Elmo, and Curious George all have some very different opinions on how to handle illness, and some parents aren't fans.


An episode of Curious George called "Monkey Fever" ended with a bit about naturopathy, specifically, Dr. Shiva Barton who mentions oregano as an herb used for thousands of years "seems to be helpful in fighting germs.", Kids were shown a few pressure points and were told that "sometimes it helps" to rub them for tummy aches. A lot of parents felt it was a slap to western medicine. You can check out the 'YouTomb" video titled Curious George endorses ineffective and potentially harmful pseudoscience to children for more on that. Yikes.

On the complete opposite side is an entire episode of Sid the Science Kid called "Getting a Shot: You can do it!" that was done in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to convince the audience (kids) that the flu vaccine is completely necessary. Not surprisingly, there were strong reactions -- some called Sid a Vaccine Hero and others said it was just flat out wrong to try to convince children of a message that is way beyond their grasp and totally the parent's decision.

But in the middle is cute fuzzy Elmo with buddy Gordon, who combated the H1N1 flu virus specifically with hand washing. Elmo took the route that everyone can agree on, that is age-appropriate for children which talks about sneezing into the elbow, not touching your face, and washing up. Despite being ended with promotion of the CDC, Elmo has received little to no criticism.

Do you think it's appropriate to push anything parental decisions on small children, or should they stick to general basic good habits, like Elmo?


Image via YouTube

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