News / Ottawa

Ottawa comic book aims to get children vaccinated

Comparing viruses to invading extra-terrestrials, the digital comic aims to explain the role of white blood cells and vaccines to children.

In the comic book, white blood cells are portrayed as fighting off an invasion with the help of vaccines.

Supplied

In the comic book, white blood cells are portrayed as fighting off an invasion with the help of vaccines.

A prominent Ottawa doctor has teamed up with graphic-design prodigies to convince children to get vaccinated.

Immunity Warriors: Invasion of the Alien Zombies is a digital comic book that aims to get children thinking differently about needles and go over the heads of reluctant parents.

Comparing viruses to invading extra-terrestrials, the comic aims to explain the role of white blood cells and vaccines to children.

Dr. Kumanan Wilson, the Ottawa Hospital’s Research Chair in Public Health Innovation, got the idea when he came to speak at his son’s Grade 5/6 split class, explaining the immune system through an analogy of a space invasion.

“I thought this might be a great way to connect,” he said. “The immune system is cool. If you frame it like this, they’ll think science is amazing.”

Wilson reached out to Algonquin College. With funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, the college suggested a video comic book and linked him to two students and one graduate.

The project started last summer and had Dom Richichi working through most of last semester.

“Cells are round, not creative looking,” said third-year graphic design student. “We were given a bare script, which we had a chance to develop.”

Richichi said it was interesting work that served a purpose.

“I’m empowering the kids too. You’re giving them their own choice to make, through a visual way that also educates them.”

While Wilson hopes the project fights fear of needles, he’s blunt about tackling parents who dispute vaccine science.

“It’s hard to change adults’ minds about vaccines; about anything, really,” he said. “If they’re an anti-vaxxer, you’re not going to change their mind. So, we need to start earlier.”

“A lot of parents aren’t firmly anit -vax; they’re hesitant,” Wilson said, adding that some simply forget to get their kids vaccinated.

That rings true for Richichi, 26, who admits he was so busy with last semester’s project that he caught influenza, after forgetting to get his flu shot.

The comic will soon be published on the CANImmunize app, available on iPhone and Android smartphones.

More on Metronews.ca