Vaccines explained for children in book – 'Maya’s Marvellous Medicine'

Professor Adrian Liston, Senior Group Leader at the Babraham Institute, and artist Dr Sonia Agüera-Gonzalez have published a captivating story book to teach children about the immune system and why vaccinations are important.

Illustration for Maya’s Marvellous Medicine by Dr Sonia Agüera-Gonzalez
  • Maya’s Marvellous Medicine’, the third children’s book by immunologist Professor Adrian Liston and illustrated by artist Dr Sonia Agüera-Gonzalez launches today.

  • The book sees Maya learn about the cells that make up our immune system and how vaccinations prepare these cells for battle.

  • The book is available to read for free online, or purchase as a physical copy.

As some children begin to receive the flu vaccine ahead of this winter and with pharmaceutical companies applying for approval of their COVID-19 vaccines for children under 12, ‘Maya’s Marvellous Medicine’ can be used by adults to discuss key scientific concepts with them. The book is available on Issuu and now.

Maya's Marvellous Medicine is set in a doctor’s office just before Maya receives a vaccination. Maya learns that vaccines are made up of bits of microbes that your body practices fighting, just like Maya practised for her race at school. The doctor explains to Maya that dendritic cells present B and T cells with the clues that allow them to defeat the real microbes, even if that is years later. 

The message in Prof Liston’s book is two-fold, he explains: “After reading ‘Maya’s Marvellous Medicine’ I hope that kids will understand what a vaccine is, and how the immune system practices. More important, though, is the underlying message of empathy. Vaccines protect you, but they also protect your loved ones and your community.” Protecting others is the focus of Prof Liston’s first book Battle Robots of the Blood, about a boy with a compromised immune system. 

As an immunologist, Prof Liston hopes his book sparks an appreciation for vaccines and work like his: “I'd love kids to learn just how cool the immune system is, and parents to be reminded that vaccines make us all safe. Vaccines have likely saved more lives than all other medical interventions combined, and yet they've come under targeted attack over the past decade, with deliberate misinformation campaigns. That means we need to be creating positive proactive stories, like Maya's Marvellous Medicine or Battle Robots of the Blood.

Talking about her experience working on this series of books, Dr Sonia Agüera-Gonzalez commented: “I have thoroughly enjoyed bringing Maya to life and telling such an important story. Books like the ones we have made can be a powerful tool for teachers, educators, parents and carers who would like to have conversations with young children about vaccines without glossing over the science behind the jab.”

Prof Liston added: “I always look forward to seeing the new styles of illustration Sonia brings to a project. I also love seeing my own son’s reaction to the final products. This book is dedicated to him for all the time we spent together in the lockdown.”

The book is currently available in English and Dutch.

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