My day in Toronto with the ‘In Healthy Hearts You Trust’ campaign

Heidi Grant Wood, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, in love with Toronto with its diverse population and liberal values, set the pace for an image campaign aimed at encouraging people to get vaccinated

This week the leaders of two major research organizations launched a campaign to encourage more kids to get a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination, which is considered low in Canada, the United States and the UK.

The campaign, entitled In Healthy Hearts You Trust, portrays characters like Heidi Grant Wood, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, as a family vacationing in Toronto, which shows Toronto’s diverse population as well as its position as a “progressive, exciting and intelligent city”. In other shots, a girl in a wheelchair, an artist in the city’s primary school, and a school-aged boy with a dream of becoming an astronaut, were depicted on a soundtrack of schoolchildren’s recitations of anti-vaccination slogans.

Heidi Grant Wood, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird. Photograph: Verite Agency

“The message is easy to understand and makes sense to people,” says Cancer Research UK’s CEO Sir Harpal Kumar. “People have begun to understand that this is a serious and preventable disease and that vaccination is the best way to protect all of us from it.”

The campaign campaign was funded with $2.5m (£1.8m) in donations from the Cure Duchenne Foundation, which works to help find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). “We looked at many campaigns, but Toronto’s messaging was one of the simplest,” said Dr Rawna Rana, the foundation’s chief of research. “People understand and believe it.”

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The clinical trial of live attenuated and transmissible vaccine containing the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, for adults aged 18 to 49 years old, has led to a surge in vaccinations in Toronto’s public health department, with the highest uptake rates in 10 years.

The media campaign was first launched in 2016 in support of the celebration of universal health care in Canada.

Kumar said that with the spread of measles and mumps, Toronto is on the cusp of a major outbreak. “It will continue to get worse, but we can make a difference if we use all the resources we have,” he said.

The chance to raise awareness of this issue is a powerful thing and can be one of the best things anyone can do for their children’s health.

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