Sid the Science Kid: A Vaccine Hero

I almost fell out of my chair laughing when I saw Kim Stagliano's latest opinion-unsupported-by-evidence essay about "vaccine safety" on HuffPo, because the object of her disapproval is Sid the Science Kid and his 2009 episode Getting a Shot: You Can Do It! Here is what Ms. Stagliano had to say:
"The vaccine safety community doesn't have big gun PR firms to coax the media into doing our bidding. There's no government support via PBS programs like New Sid the Science Kid Flu Vaccination Special Episode Now Available for Free Download on Flu.gov, enticing kids to get vaccines as if you're selling breakfast cereal."
Here's what the episode is actually about:
"In this special episode, Sid explains how vaccines work and shows millions of children what they can do to prevent the spread of the flu," said [Health and Human Services] Secretary Sebelius. "Sid will be a great messenger as we continue to find new and creative ways to reach out to children, adults, and families about how to stay healthy during flu season."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research worked with the Henson Company and its partners to create a special episode of which premiered on PBS on Monday, Oct. 26, 2009, with subsequent airings on Nov. 19, Nov. 27, and Dec. 21.
It's been a vaccine-y week here -- the comments at my Shot of Prevention: Why My Child With Autism Is Fully Vaccinated post have been closed at 583, as we kept getting the same two people sputtering at us, with the same tired, outdated misinformation. I'd like to again thank Amy & Christine from ECBT.org for republishing the post, and Liz, Emily, Chris, Tom, SJ, Ellen, Dee, Jen, Kev, Squillo, and everyone else who calmly jumped in with the evidence. If you have the time, the comments are a good read -- and would make an excellent study piece for anyone interested in how conspiracy theory proponents think.

Also, BlogHer syndicated my recent pertussis post, which the editors retitled The Pertussis Epidemic and The Anti-Vaccine Movement. The comment stream there is good reading too, because it contains fresh voices from parents both within and outside the autism community who are vehemently pro-vaccine -- because they are pro-healthy, protected, non-critically-ill children.

I'm going to be chuckling about the Sid-pummeling all week long -- it's almost as awesome as Jerry Falwell railing against Tinky Winky the Teletubby for promoting the homosexual agenda. Almost.


Full disclosure: Leo's godmother developed and executive produces Sid (and the also-controversial Dinosaur Train). But we didn't know about the Flu episode until it had already been produced.


  1. What's annoying is that some of us are on the fence about vaccines for things that are not polio, tetnus, or meningitis, not because we think vaccines are deadly or cause autism, but because we are older (survived many childhood illnesses and don't know anyone who didn't) or because we are conservative about medical procedures in general. Or we have children who are freaked-right-out terrified of needles. I would like to be able to mildly disagree about things like the flu vaccine without being lumped in with the crazies.

  2. You're expressing legitimate concerns in a civil manner. That is entirely reasonable.

    One of the goals of the Sid video is to reassure kids who are scared about getting shots, though it probably won't much help a child who, for instance, requires sedation for such procedures.

    But - the "we survived childhood diseases and everyone was fine" approach does little to comfort those who weren't and aren't fine, and can lead to eroding herd immunity. Which is something those whose children can't be vaccinated should especially value -- because those children are depending on other people to keep vaccine-preventable diseases from re-emerging.

  3. I remember that Sid episode when it came out last year. It was made because of the H1N1 virus was going around and people were concerned about how it was hitting the kid population pretty hard (that's my assumption anyway). I had my daughter watch it so she would understand what vaccines were about so she understood why she had to have painful shots. She ended up not getting the H1N1 vaccine. Not for philosophical reasons but because her pediatrician's office didn't receive them until the week my daughter contracted that flu!

    Luckily, it was very mild for her and now she's immune for life! Yay!

  4. Elaine: "but because we are older (survived many childhood illnesses and don't know anyone who didn't)"

    That is interesting, because as a baby boomer I grew up around hoards of kids. I did run into kids who were injured by diseases. For a while we had a next door neighbor whose fifth out of six kids was partially deaf because her mother had rubella. I also remember sometimes the moms would stop talking if kids entered the room, especially about the time measles was going through our school (I caught something about someone's son now having to go to a special school).

    As an adult I met a woman at a mom/baby group whose first child died from Hib. My own son had seizures and ended up in the ER from a now vaccine preventable disease.

    Where did you live? Because I think I need to move there.

    (Just started to read Dangerous Pregnancies by Leslie Reagan. For a academic treatment of the 1960s rubella epidemic and the resulting changes in abortion laws and disability rights, it is a pretty good and interesting read!)

  5. Chris, I share your opinion on surviving childhood disease, as I wrote. But Elaine was trying to make the point that people should be able to share reasonable, genuine concerns and experiences about vaccines without being ridiculed. So, the information you provided was helpful. The line about "where did you live" was not necessary. :)

  6. Sorry.

    I should have left it at the fact that children were often not told about the other kids who got hurt. We were protected from this kind of bad information. It may have very well happened that a child she knew in the school, but not very well. That child may have stopped showing up, and she was never told the reason.

    Attitudes were different not too long ago. I know I was told to be careful, but nice, to the girl with epilepsy, like it was something that was her fault. I think I would have been less guarded and friendlier if I had not been pre-primed for the stigma attached to epilepsy.

    This is one reason why we cannot let our own experiences, ie anecdotes, be part of the vaccine decision. One needs to look at the actual data.

  7. I agree that all vaccinations are not the same and each new one should be considered carefully, like any other medical decision. We opted not to go for any flu fax last year (because Billy's terrified of the doctor's office -- not the best reasoning I know), though having been through an exhausting and flu-filled winter, I'm reversing that decision this year.

    Other than failing to get a flu shot, I vaccinate both my kids on the pediatrician-recommended schedule, including my autistic son. Chicken pox are totally survivable -- but they're awful (I was 14 before I caught them).

    My son loses his cool over a sniffle; I don't want to suffer through a couple of weeks of chicken pox, if I can help it. I went through two weeks of Hand-Foot-Mouth with him earlier this year, and that was bad enough.

    But the main reason I vaccinate is that I did as much research as I could do into the subject, and I felt comfortable that was the safest route for my kids.

    My son's autism was not caused by vaccines. He was wired differently from the get-go. And it's my amateur opinion that no autism is caused by vaccines.

    I had forgotten about the Teletubby madness! Thanks for the reminder - that really made me laugh :-)

  8. Amanda Broadfoot: I don't want to suffer through a couple of weeks of chicken pox, if I can help it.

    When it went through our household my six year old son was so sick he started to wet the bed (and he had been the easiest to potty train!). This made the pox even worse. (this was before there was a vaccine)

    I am so sorry about your flu experience last year. I hope it goes better for you this year.

  9. Great blog, Squid. With a noisy anti-vax minority out there, it's easy to think that most people have lost their senses. You and your supporters remind me that most of us are doing the right thing!


Respectful disagreement encouraged.