What does Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have to do with vaccines?
The connection is Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Or more specifically, it is Roald Dahl’s seven-year-old daughter Olivia, who died of measles in 1962, the year before the development of the first measles vaccine.
In 1986, Dahl wrote that “there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.
It is not yet generally accepted that measles can be a dangerous illness. Believe me, it is. In my opinion parents who now refuse to have their children immunised are putting the lives of those children at risk.”
His book, The BFG, now a major motion picture, was dedicated to her memory.
In recommending that parents vaccinate their kids, Dahl hopes “that her death had helped to save a good deal of illness and death among other children.”
For more information:
- Roald Dahl on Olivia, writing in 1986
- If you haven’t yet read Roald Dahl’s letter about measles, you should …
- The saddest story Roald Dahl ever wrote — about his daughter’s death from measles — is worth reading today