If there is a set of words that has been on everyone’s lips for the past few months, it has to be the covid-19 vaccine. However, for most children, the term vaccination has very painful connotations, full of memories of pricks and needles. Not many know what goes into making a vaccine, and what its benefits are. It is to clear such myths that a new book, V for Vaccine: A One-Shot Introduction to Vaccines, has been released. Published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, the book features quirky and vibrant illustrations and a question-answer format.
V for Vaccine introduced kids to three characters, Veni, Vidi and Vici, who love sports, books and food, but most of all they love talking about things that start with the letter V—such as vaccines. “The book was Tina Narang’s idea, who is the publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books. She felt that this was a very pertinent topic, and that such information needed to be easily accessible to children,” says Isha Nagar, who has illustrated the book. “Veni, Vidi, Vici stands for we came, we saw, we conquered. We named our characters after that. It is also a play on the letter V.” She chose to depict the central characters as adorable monsters instead of portraying them as children. Nagar felt that kids might relate to these vibrant characters better. “Images of actual kids getting vaccinated might get too scary for them,” she adds.
The book hopes to assuage the curiosity of children about vaccines, antigens, and covid-19 through an easy-to-understand format. The question, ‘what is a vaccine’, is accompanied by an illustration of a boxing ring, with a vaccine fighting a bad germ. V for Vaccine also talks about antibodies—when harmful substances enter our bodies, the immune system recognises them by producing substances called antibodies. As kids get to know more about antibodies being proteins, shaped a little like Y, they also get to see a colourful illustration showing a tiny Y-shaped superhero, which drives home the point. Inputs were also taken from Dr Gagandeep Kang, professor of microbiology at the Wellcome Trust Research Laboratory, Division of Gastrointestinal Sciences at the Christian Medical College, Vellore. The book compels children to think beyond the pricks and pains of vaccination.