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

baby health, vaccines, natural parenting, cartoons


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nonmember avatar Anon

I don't mind exposing kids to different ideas, but they should always say "some people believe" when they introduce something like that. That way the parents can easily counter with "yes, but we believe ___" or "I know, but for you I decided that ___ is better."

momto... momtothemax2910

I'm all for showing different ways of doing things.

ethan... ethans_momma06

I freaking hated the Sid the Science kid pro vaccine episode. Talk about indoctrination. I missed the other two, but I think that the Elmo one seems to be the best. If they wanted to cover an episode with kids dealing with shots (remember, things other then immunizations come in shots too) they could have done it WAAAAY different. It was just horrible and I was sorry that my child watched most of it.

nonmember avatar The ArtsyMama

I tend to agree that it isn't the place of cartoons to discuss topics like these with children to the point of giving them instruction on how to do stuff.

I like Elmo's approach. I would have tweaked the other shows to include their messages about quelling fear of shots but not necessarily going as far as saying you should get vaccinated. As far as Curious George goes that was a bit reckless. Instructing children on the how to and methods of a practice that should only be carried out under the guidance of a professional was over the top.

Nicho... NicholasMama608

I don't mind showing my child that there are other ways of doing things and to be tolerant to other people and their lives.

jalaz77 jalaz77

I am all for ways to educate my kids. So I did enjoy the way it was brought up and discussed. My thoughts are, don't watch it if you don't agree with it. No matter how it's put on the air someone is going to have a problem with it. Kids need simple messages and this show does that.

Jo-Ann Temple Hindon

I also like to expose my kid to the fact that there are many different ways to doing things, because, well there are. But I saw the Sid expisode and it really leads kids to believe they WILL be very sick if they don't get a flu shot. I happent to dissagree with the way it was written. That expisode is availbe to stream online w/you know-flix.

PonyC... PonyChaser

"don't watch it if you don't agree with it"

The problem with that statement is, as a parent who allows PBS almost exclusively as viewing for my son, I've gotten to the point where I can say, "yes, you can go watch Sid/George/Word Girl/etc" and not worry about what he's going to see. It used to be that I didn't have to pre-watch every stinkin' episode to make sure that he's not going to get indoctrinated - I knew he was going to learn about levers, or birds, or how to spell things, or whatever.

I really don't care if they pass on universal messages - be nice to one another, don't treat Jimmy poorly because he walks with a limp, wash your hands to stop germs from spreading, whatever. But when they start preaching - get vaccinated or you'll get really sick - I have a problem with that. That is MY JOB, as his parent. PBS's job is to support me in my job, not to do my job for me.

And this is coming from a mom who has done all the vaccines, except the flu vaccine. I do see the value in them. But I respect other parents' right not to vaccinate their kids.

Lynette Lynette

I like the stick to the basics like Elmo. 

colin... colins_mom

I loved the sid the science kid episode. I vax my son. And it helped him get over his fear of it.

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