Ethan Posard got his Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis) booster on-camera, thanks to his older sister and the documentary film she was making at school, Invisible Threat. The vaccine (and the experience of learning about preventable diseases from his sister) led to a new kind of advocacy: kids talking to kids.
Ethan, now fourteen, has published The Shots Book: A Little Brother’s Superhero Tale. As Ethan explains, “sometimes a kid can explain something better to a kid.” He explains what vaccines do and why they are important to children in language that is accessible but not insulting. What’s more, he teaches them about herd immunity using the same lesson that taught him about the importance of stopping diseases from entering into his community.
As he explains in the book, Ethan’s puppy Roxy got very sick because other people in his community were not vaccinating their older dogs. Children, who love animals and are natural caretakers for pets, can understand why it is important to protect their puppies. The concept of herd immunity, which escapes many adults, is made clear through Roxy.
Every child is reading this book is encouraged to see themselves as the hero of the tale. Ethan explains how getting vaccinated makes each child a superhero because they are creating a shield of protection around babies and the vulnerable so that they can be protected. The adorable illustrations in the book show children happily wearing capes after receiving their vaccines. In this way, the tone of the book is decidedly upbeat and entirely appropriate for preschool through grade school aged children.
The book ends with tips for kids who are about to get their shots. While the book could be read at any time to help explain the concept of herd immunity and the importance of immunization, it is particularly useful for a child who is preparing to get immunized. Not only will they be prepared to brave their shots, but they will also learn that what they are doing is an important and valuable service for their community.
The book itself is also a valuable community service. Ethan explains:
I dedicate my book to the children who must rely on herd immunity to keep them safe. When you buy my book another book gets donated to a children’s hospital library with remaining proceeds going to my herd immunity educational campaign. Those kids fighting cancer, needing transplants, or battling other diseases are the real heroes and I want them to know they have a friend who cares.
You can support Ethan’s efforts by purchasing his book (in English or Spanish) and by using the hashtag #IamTheHerd.