Anti-vaxxers take aim at pro-vaccine children's book on Amazon

Children's books containing messages about the importance of vaccination are often subjected to a slew of negative reviews from supporters of the anti-vaccine movement, according to a report from The Washington Post.

Here five takeaways from the report.

1. Author Anne Koffsky wrote the children's book "Judah Maccabee Goes to the Doctor: A Story for Hanukkah" after seeing reports of Jewish families forgoing vaccination for religious purposes. Ms. Koffsky, an Orthodox Jew, told the Post she wrote the book to promote her Jewish values of protecting ones' community, which can be achieved through vaccination.

2. In a coordinated campaign, anti-vaxxers began flooding the book's Amazon review page with negative reviews to bring down its rating. Supporters of the anti-vaccine movement have launched similar campaigns on Amazon against other children's books highlighting the benefits of vaccination.

3. Amazon does not specifically monitor its book listings for such incidents. The company also does not delete ideological reviews. However, the company can tweak a listing so only verified reviewers can contribute a review.

4. The online retail giant also has listings for children's books based on pseudoscience, promoting anti-vaccine messages. One such book published in 2012 called "Melanie's Marvelous Measles" drew widespread ire from reviewers in 2015 after a measles outbreak was identified in Disneyland. A one-star review for the book features fake book titles meant to mock "Melanie's Marvelous Measles," such as "Timmy's Triumphant Tumors" and "Yolanda's Yummy Yersinia."

5. Robert Brown, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher who studies infectious disease at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told the Post he was thinking about writing a children's book until he saw the low ratings on Amazon for pro-vaccine children's picture books. He told the Post he'd like to see Amazon partner with a scientific journal to feature reviews from actual scientific professionals.

To read the Post's full report, click here.

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