Anti-vaccine book draws ire from pro-vaccine readers

A measles outbreak that spread at Disneyland has brought an anti-vaccine book into the spotlight.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

As the California measles outbreak spreads to other states, with at least 123 reported cases, many vaccine supporters are expressing their frustration on the Amazon page of an anti-vaccination children’s book called “Melanie’s Marvelous Measles.”

The picture book, written by Stephanie Messenger, seeks “to educate children on the benefits of having measles and how you can heal from them naturally and successfully,” according to its Amazon page. (A notation above the book summary reads: “The description does not express the views of Amazon.”) A short biographical note about Messenger, who lives in Australia, claims she “has the support of many natural therapists and natural-minded doctors.”

According to Yahoo News, the book’s title character “contracts measles despite being vaccinated; whereas, her unvaccinated friend Tina is not infected with the virus” despite close contact between the two. Many who oppose the measles vaccine claim that the disease is mostly harmless, and that vaccinations have been linked to autism, a theory that has been discredited by scientists and physicians.

Measles was eliminated in America in 2000 but has made a surprising comeback. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says measles is an extremely contagious disease.


British author Roald Dahl lost his daughter to measles in 1962. “Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old,” he wrote later. “As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.

‘Are you feeling all right?’ I asked her.

‘I feel all sleepy,’ she said.

In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.”

The ratings of “Melanie’s Marvelous Measles” from Amazon users have been harsh. The book has more than 1,100 reviews on the site, more than 900 of which give the book one star, the lowest possible rating. One reviewer complains that the book isn’t available in all formats: “My infant daughter went blind after contracting measles from an unvaccinated child, and yet there’s no braille version of this wonderful book for me to give her someday to explain to her how awesome the disease that took her sight away is.” Another reviewer sarcastically recommends “other fine titles from the same author,” including “Doug’s Delightful Dysentery” and “Luther’s Lucky Lupus.”

Stoking the anger over the book is the title, which appears to be a reference to Dahl’s 1981 children’s book, “George’s Marvellous Medicine.”