“CRIME NOT TO”: My Daughter Died from Measles and You Don’t Want to Vaccinate?


By Roald Dahl

My eldest daughter caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.

“Are you feeling all right?” I asked her.

“I feel all sleepy,” she said.

In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.

The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her.

That was twenty-four years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.

On the other hand, 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.

In America, where measles immunisation is compulsory, measles, like smallpox, has been virtually wiped out.

Here in Britain, because so many parents refuse, either out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear, to allow their children to be immunised, we still have a hundred thousand cases of measles every year.

Out of those, more than 10,000 will suffer side effects of one kind or another.

At least 10,000 will develop ear or chest infections.

About 20 will die.


Every year around 20 children will die in Britain from measles.

So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunised?

They are almost non-existent. Listen to this. In a district of around 300,000 people, there will be only one child every 250 years who will develop serious side effects from measles immunisation! That is about a million to one chance. I should think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunisation.

So what on earth are you worrying about?

It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised.

The ideal time to have it done is at 13 months, but it is never too late. All school-children who have not yet had a measles immunisation should beg their parents to arrange for them to have one as soon as possible.

Incidentally, I dedicated two of my books to Olivia, the first was “James and the Giant Peach.” That was when she was still alive. The second was “The BFG,” dedicated to her memory after she had died from measles. You will see her name at the beginning of each of these books. And I know how happy she would be if only she could know that her death had helped to save a good deal of illness and death among other children.


  1. He was a very famous author of numerous children’s books. He was also an acknowledged antisemite and anti Israel. In 2014 the Royal Mint scrapped plans to issue a limited edition commemorative coin in his memory because of his antisemitism.

  2. 1 child died in 1962 from the measles. According to the CDC in 2015 there were no measles deaths in 10 years and over 100 deaths by measles vaccines.
    10 years ago only 1 in 10,000 kids had autism in US, now it’s 1 in 68. Which is obviously why lately there are many more anti-vaxxers. Can you blame them?
    How about posting some stories of children who became autistic after vaccination? There are loads of them online.

      • Seems like while you can’t digest a difference of opinion, you don’t have any solid rebuttal. That’s the new norm to win your debate.

        • He and many others with their childish verbal attacks are behaving just like the liberal Trump-haters who have no constructive criticism. So they resort to chaos, violence and besmirching him and his administration in general.

      • Dave, Shalom al yisroel wrote a fantastic post yesterday. It would be worthwhile for you to read it and reread it and read it over again:

        As a man on the the wall, my kids get all their vaccines, but i spent a lot of time researching the pros and cons of vaccination. I don’t blame, but have the greatest respect for the anti-vaxes. they are not ignoramuses but intelligent parents who love and want to protect their children. It seems from the comments here that those apposed are putting their faith in the doctors and attacking them from ignorance.

        Doctors are good and caring people who want their clients to be healthy and well. They are taught by university’s that are controlled in part by greedy drug companies. They give lots of money and use their “studies” in the university to prove that their medications are the answers. Doctors receive follow up education on new medications from who? you guessed it, those same companies. Doctors are given kick-back to push certain medications too. Thinking that this helps their patients they are happy to comply. This doesn’t mean that all meds are bad, but there are quite a few that are not worth taking. It is up to the parent to decide whether they are safe or not for their children, not the doctors. there is a lot more to write, but i hope you get the picture and can start respecting the anti-vaxes.

    • > More Scare Tactic

      Are you being sarcastic or just plain evil? The UK government web site lists measles statistics starting in 1940. In 1962 it lists 39 deaths. How dare you falsify life-or-death issues and claim only 1 death. The topic in the article is the UK. CDC is not in the UK, so how is that relevant to the topic. But seeing as you mentioned it, the CDC puts the measles deaths in the US in the years leading to 1963 as between 400 to 500 per year. And the CDC lists all major side-affects of the vaccine, which does not include autism or death. (For those interested the side-affects depend on age and medical history, and they all disappear in short time: fever in 4 out of 10,000 children; joint pain in older females if this is their first shot; 1 in 40,000 may have temporary problems in bleeding – lack of blood clotting which may require attention). And the CDC web site explicitly denies any connection to autism.

      But the question remains on the inconsistency of your own statements. “10 years ago only 1 in 10,000 kids had autism in US” – so what was the vaccination rate 10 years ago? The CDC shows that in 2009-2010 the kindergarten census found nearly 100% vaccination. From there is FALLS every year to ever lower levels. So by your own argument (using your own numbers) the autistic level was lowest when most were vaccinated. The correlation is the exact reverse of what you claim.

      • You read sites that show you the danger of not vaccinating while anti-vaxxers read sites that prove the danger of vaccination, including the CDC’s take. It’s more likely that your sites are fakes just like the BBC and other UK govt sites. Just to prove my point, what did the UK govt site write about Tommy Robinson’s arrest – if they wrote about it at all?

        • In case a 6-year-old is reading this I wish to state clearly that you either do not understand this whole conversation or you deliberately bafflegab. CDC is the source mentioned specifically by “More Scare Tactic” and so the same CDC is the source I used to respond to “More Scare Tactic” to show how his arguments are false and ridiculous.

          Just why would a science-based UK health department web site mention anything about Tommy Robinson. He is no scientist, he speaks nothing about health matters, and his whole concern is immigrants/Islamists?

    • Really that is the only thing that changed in the last 10 years is that now we vaccinate? We have been vaccinating for measles for close to 40 years with two vaccines not one why the sudden spike in only the last 10 years? It’s not possible that there is a different factor that is increasing the numbers of autistic people. Also is it not possible that we now over diagnose children with all sorts of mental illness? Maybe someone who was not called autistic 10 years ago today is called autistic? Moreover my brother was a child he was just called wild looking back today they would say he has ADHD the reason being they now classify more things as ADHD same for autism

  3. Actually, while he was anti-Zionist, he wasn’t really anti-Semitic. He had many Jewish friends, respected much about them, and was definitely not consistently anti-Jewish.

  4. His negative personality has nothing to do with the truth and urgency of his message to vaccinate children against measles to protect their lives. It would have been a lot more responsible of you to have responded in support of his plea or at the very least, first validate the message and then denigrate the person.

  5. As was mentioned above, Roald Dahl was a great writer of adult, as well as, children’s literature, which he is most famous for. He also was a virulent anti- Israel basher after reading and reviewing Tony Clifton’s picture book about the siege of West Beirut by the Israeli army during the 1982 Lebanon War. Nevertheless, despite his many provocative comments regarding both Israel and Jews, Dahl had Jewish friends, including philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin. His publisher was a Jew, his agent was a Jew, the managing director of his Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden is Jewish. … and he thought nothing but good things of them.
    However, the focus of the letter above, written by Mr. Dahl 24 years after his daughter’s death from measles, isn’t really about him or even about his daughter. Certainly not about politics. It’s a loving father, devastated by his young child’s untimely death, explaining the urgency and necessity of vaccinating children to prevent more unnecessary deaths.

  6. 3000 healthy people die every year in the US from food born illness. And we’re talking about something that causes 1 death (to an immunocompromised person) in 10 years?? What a laughing stock!

    • Do you understand the topic at all? The topic is whether the public will stop vaccinating or continue vaccinating. It is not the number of current deaths that is the topic. It is the number of future deaths that will happen if the lunatics take over and vaccinations stop. The analogy to stopping vaccinations, which is the implicit concern here, is if all inspections of canneries and food producing facilities and the like came to end and everyone did what they wanted.

  7. Biology is so complex that only the real arrogant and big shots claim everything they know is with certainty actually a fact. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years they prove beyond doubt a correlation bet some vaccinations and autism or other neurological disorder. Just wondering if all the vocal anti vaxers will then go ask forgiveness. I’m actually not an anti vaxer but I’m not close minded either. I’m open to the fact that many medical theories have been disproved (research “junk dna” as an example).
    So, Will you go around apologizing if the “proof” gets “disproved”? What about if people got sick as a direct result, will you carry a guilty conscious?

    • If you’re not closed minded as you claim to be, you should already go ask forgiveness from those who are more open minded than you and have done more research than you instead of nodding their heads to the doctors dumbly.

      There’s absolutely no guilty conscious when a child catches the measles from an anti-vaxxer because halachically chayecha kodmin, your child’s life takes precedence over someone else’s child’s life. You’re not obligated to risk YOUR child’s life with vaccination that have proven to have side effects even though another child can catch it from your child.

      • The chazon ish stated that one who spreads a sickness is chaiv as a mazik and Adam muad leolam therefore when not taking vaccines presents a danger to others you can not say chayecha kodem

        • a unvaccinated person is not spreading sickness. Where did you get that from? Sick people who go out in public are the ones spreading sicknesses.

      • Not only are you wrong about not chayiv for spreading illness you may have a din rodef. If you don’t want to vaccinate no problem I will not try to convince you to but please stay at home and don’t spread the disease chyecha kodem allows you not to vaccinate your children but does not allow you to go around spreading the disease

  8. Remember: Science News July 2, 2018 : “The Supreme Court ruled vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe” in 2016 – What has changed since? Nothing.”

    Do not forget to bentch gomel after the vaccination if your child did not become autistic, brain damaged or other neurological injuries ch”v. Do loads and loads of prayers beforehand.

    • You remind me of the story about an older visitor to a foreign country who goes site-seeing. He enters a local store and then in shock stares at the owner seated at the entrance. The owner stares back. “Moshe?” says the owner. “Berryl?” says the visitor. They recognize each other as childhood friends. As they talk, a customer comes in. The owner chases him out. This happens again and again. Finally the visitor asks his childhood friend, the store owner, why is he chasing away business. The owner answers as follows. Last night I had a meeting with my accountant. He told me that for every dollar I sell I lose 10 cents. So I decided then-and-there that to stop losing money I must stop selling anything!

      In other words, you have no understanding (or hope the reader has no understanding) of what “unavoidably unsafe” means. Ditto for how court cases are handled. By your argument no-one could ever, for example, ride in a vehicle. They are “unavoidably unsafe”. What it actually means is that the level of risk is so small compared to the advantage of using it that lawsuits should only be allowed if the product was not manufactured to specs. That is why when someone steps on the gas pedal of a car and steers it deliberately into a brick wall the car manufacturer cannot be sued for manufacturing a car that is not smart enough to have prevented the driver from doing such a thing. And by the way – the time will come when it will be expected that the car has to be built smart enough to stop on its own. But not today.

  9. Measles, mumps and chickenpox was something that virtually every child got in the past. Many doctors whose voices are being covered up) believe that these childhood infections actually strengthened their immunity. Children with nephrosis (a serious kidney disease) who contracted the measles had their nephrosis actually disappear. It is also said that these childhood infections can prevent brain tumors and cancers from developing later in life.

    There were deaths from measles but it was almost unheard of like with the chicken pox. The CDC can’t yet paint a terrifying picture of chicken pox because we all remember it. Give it time and they will.

    Hashem decides who lives and who dies and we just do hishtadlus. The vaccine hishtadlus carries more risk than benefit and is highly inaffective since it gives only temporary immunity. This temporary immunity is a result of the non-involvement of the cell-mediated system.
    All over the world there have been major increase in disease after mandated vaccinations. China has a vaccination rate of 99%, and they had 50,000 outbreaks within the last few years.
    India had over 100,000 children become paralyzed after they were forced to swallow the oral polio vaccine.

    Smallpox cases shot up in Leicester, England in the mid 1800s after the vaccine was made mandatory.
    The infamous smallpox epidemic that happened in Massachusetts in 1855 happened after 4 smallpox vaccination laws were passed.
    In the Ukraine too, when they ran out of measles vaccines, the number of measles went down.
    The black plague in the middle ages didn’t affect the Jews due to sanitation and cleanliness. You can take my word for it- It wasn’t the Black Plague vaccine that stopped it.
    Then you could talk about all the vaccine injuries which over the years were labeled as “crib death” e.t.c.
    America has the highest doses of vaccines from all the developed countries and we have the most sickness.
    This form of Hishtadlus doesn’t seem to add up.

    • Your post, Poor Hishtadlus 5:27, would be a nice ending to all these vaccination arguments. Let’s stop it right here with the post before for Hishtadlus of tefillah and birchas hagomel.

    • > A poor form of hishtadlus

      “There were deaths from measles but it was almost unheard of like with the chicken pox.”

      Why are you lying? Or do you really consider 6,000 measles deaths a year in the early 1900’s in the US “almost unheard of”. That is aside from untold myriads who lived only to suffer serious and even debilitating complications.

      And how dare you compare the unregulated and free-for-all vaccinations of the 1800’s to modern vaccinations. So-called vaccinations in the 1800’s was having arm-to-arm transfer from a vaccinated person to another subject without hygiene, that is, without sterilizing the procedure at all.

      And that Ukraine story is a lie. Ukraine had reached 95% vaccination in 2008 which was the level the UN was aiming for herd immunity, and measles practically disappeared. Then some propagandists started to convince people to stop vaccinating and vaccination rate fell to 31% and the the disease came back. And the government was taken by surprise and asked for emergency help and went on an emergency vaccination program which could not keep up with the spread of the disease. AS of September 2018 they had reached only 85%, still short of the required 95%.

      I don’t know who you (plural) are or why you (plural) are spreading these lies, but the blood of every person who is damaged or dies because of of your (plural) lies is on your hands. And you can’t even claim ignorance 9which ardly matters anyway even if you could), you know you are lying.


        • Nice try. All capitals yet. But the topic is not what happened in the past – with which I had no connection – but what is happening now. Anyone got hurt with past experiments of vaccines? Sure. Nothing to do with me – I just started my blogging in response to the current waves of lunatic comments.

          If you want to argue, then argue facts and argue rationally.

          One (of many) problems with the lunatic and lying propaganda such as yours (plural) is that legitimate concerns and actions about vaccines are sidelined and stumped because your (plural) propaganda is held up as a smokescreen to show (and it legitimately does show) how nutty these anti-vaxers are. Thus rational and legitimate concerns grounded in facts and rational arguments have been severely hindered, adn as such, so has progress and improvment.

        • To clarify some points.

          When lies are presented as facts then the liar is responsible for the consequences even when an adult makes a choice on what to do (or not do) based on those lies. As we all learned (or should have learned) the “snake” in the “Garden of Eden” lied and his held responsible.

          Further to that points, when the lies obfuscate the difference between facts and fiction, the liar is still responsible for the consequences when the individual chooses not to listen to the liar, because the individual has been made so confused that the individual can no longer differentiate between the falsehoods and the *legitimate* concerns involved (and thus fails to take protective action for the legitimate concerns).

          When an individual chooses a course of action based on facts, the individual is forewarned about legitimate concerns and the responsibility of the consequences are on the adult individual. The CDC lists *legitimate* concerns (I mentioned some in my other comments). When I get a vaccination I see whole list of questions and warnings. Those should be noted properly.

  10. Hey, I have a better idea! Improve the vaccine! It took decades to even start that route with the rubella vaccine, which was really dangerous, and let’s not forget the live polio vaccine that was so dangerous some countries switched to the combination of killed and live. Did you know that for years the only – yes, the o n l y source of smallpox – was the vaccine? And did you know that for decades everyone admitted to hospital, even for something totally unrelated to the chest area, was subject to a chest x ray, long after x rays were proven to be carcinogenic? (This is still the case in Israel today, unbelievably.) Clearly, science doesn’t care enough to make sure the vaccines (among other medicines, drugs and treatments) are truly safe, before insisting on mass use. All you have to do is read the package inserts of the medications and you will not be pleased. So while, yes, if you are not vaccinated, you have to be very cautious and concerned for other people, but I understand you. You are in a pickle.


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