A Five-Minute Cartoon Explains Measles in a Nutshell

An animated short shows that when it comes to the preventable disease, vaccination is the thin line between life and death.
Feb 25, 2015·
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

Science tells us that skipping vaccines isn’t a good idea, and neither is holding a “measles party” (in which unvaccinated kids are exposed to the virus with the erroneous idea that it will build up their immune systems). But for parents who still stubbornly reject scientific consensus, here’s a cartoon that might change their minds.

A German design studio made this short video to explain what the measles virus does to the body. Hint: It’s not pretty.

The award-winning Kurzgesagt (which translates to “in a nutshell”) produces an animated YouTube series that has spelled out complex topics such as Ebola, fracking, and incarceration rates in the United States. Given the recent measles outbreak—the U.S. has had more than 150 cases, and Germany on Tuesday reported the first known fatal case of an 18-month-old boy—the group’s latest video puts the disease in the spotlight.

The narrator opens with the question “What does measles actually do, and should you vaccinate against it, or is this just hysteria?”

The clip then explains what happens when the virus enters the body, infects the lungs, and cripples the immune system. When the patient starts coughing out millions of measles virus particles, there’s a 90 percent chance that an unvaccinated person nearby will get infected.

“Most people who don’t vaccinate only want the best for their children, which is honorable,” says the narrator. “But if you ask yourself, ‘Am I putting the life of my child and other children at risk by not vaccinating against measles?’ the sad answer is yes, yes you are.”