A rural GP in Canterbury is taking a novel approach to educating children about vaccines and viruses.
Dr Richard Clinghan has created a comic in a bid to connect with both parents and children about the subject in a "fun and entertaining" way.
Jenny & the Eddies is a "whimsical allegory" about vaccines and viruses that has been approved by the Immunisation Advisory Centre.
Dr Clinghan says he came up with the idea during last year's measle outbreak.
"I've been a GP for a number of years now and rates of vaccination have stubbornly not been improving, and I find that we're trying the same approaches and it doesn't seem to work," he told Dominic George on Magic Talk's Rural Today on Wednesday.
"A lot of parents that are vaccine-hesitant have quite strong beliefs about maybe what they've read about on the internet and things like that or maybe they're not prepared to listen to their GP, so I wanted to try a different way of reaching out to people that was not threatening or judgemental, but something that was fun and entertaining - to try and get the message across about the importance of vaccinations to keep us all safe."
And with the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of vaccinations is even more relevant.
Despite a vaccine hopefully being "on the horizon", Dr Clinghan says there is evidence to suggest that even when it arrives many people will choose not to get it.
"If it was available today there would be a significant number of people who would not be prepared to have the vaccination because of a general mistrust that has been perpetuated on the internet by these conspiracy theories," he said.
"I hope with my book I might be able to mitigate some of those concerns providing factual information about vaccines in a fun and entertaining way. I also hope when we do get this vaccine over the course of the next year, hopefully it will be a gamechanger and people will realise that vaccines are really safe, and their safety is really monitored.
"And hopefully people will be reassured when we roll out vaccines across the world and people will see that it's able to reopen our world and keep everybody safe."
Dr Clinghan said a lot of the work of creating the comic was done during the lockdowns, as a way to channel his anxiety.
"Instead of getting myself stressed out I tried to convert that nervous energy into something much more productive."
Dr Clinghan received support from Christchurch non-profit comic collective Funtime Comics to publish the book.
People wanting to buy Jenny & the Eddies can do so here.