Beth Bacon’s book teaches kids that getting vaccinated may hurt a little, but it helps a lot
Getting vaccinated against the coronavirus can be a daunting thing for kids to do. But Beth Bacon, a St. Louis-based children’s book author, is doing her part to help.
Bacon’s book "Helping Our World Get Well: COVID Vaccines" came out this month, not long after the CDC approved the vaccine for kids ages 5-11. It tells the story of a child beginning to comprehend why getting vaccinated is so important. It touches on concepts like herd immunity and protecting immunocompromised people — but puts those things in kid-friendly terms.
She said children have a lot of questions about the vaccine, but they’re usually more concrete than adults might expect. As an example, she detailed the audience questions that followed a recent Zoom event for young readers.
“One of the questions was, ‘Why exactly do you need a Band-Aid?’ And I think that's a really good question,” Bacon said. “They've all had some vaccine or another in their lives, and there is no blood. And they usually have a Band-Aid when they get a cut, and there's blood.”
Bacon said she explained in plain terms that the Band-Aid is there to stop germs. In that, it follows advice she recommends for parents — they should just step back and realize that their kids typically want a very simple answer.
Bacon also used this strategy when she wrote her first book about the pandemic. That book, "COVID-19 Helpers," was an entry to a contest held by the Emory Global Health Institute. She teamed up with friend and illustrator Kary Lee, and the two worked together on the book, making sure it would explain to kids simply what was going on in the world as shutdowns closed schools and businesses.
“It just explained what COVID is and how it’s spread. But it also said that there are helpers out there,” Bacon said. “And then it went on to really directly talking about the stay-at-home mandates, and why kids weren't going to school. And it explained that not going to school, it was actually helping so that the disease wouldn't be spreading.”
That book ended up winning the contest, and Bacon and Lee went on to tackle the concept of vaccines. Bacon said she wanted to help kids understand the impact they could make by getting the shot.
“The goal with this one really was to help a kid who may be afraid of getting a vaccine, to say that it's not really going to hurt very much, but it's going to help an awful lot,” she said.
Plus, she said, it’s a great way to start a conversation with kids about getting vaccinated.
“Really the purpose of these books is to read the story, get them involved in the subject,” Bacon said. “And then they can ask questions that they've been keeping inside that they never had the opportunity to ask.”
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