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Measles Cases Soar – Topical Tuesdays Activities from First News  

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The number of people in the West Midlands with measles is at its highest level since the 1990s. Parts of Birmingham and the Black Country have the lowest vaccination rates in the UK.


One of the main reasons why measles cases are on the increase is because some people have claimed that the MMR vaccination causes autism. This idea was originally based on a highly flawed study by a doctor who has since been struck off. The connection between the vaccine and the condition has been disproved by countless studies since. Yet anti-vaxxers (as they are called) continue to spread conspiracy theories. The question is, should this sort of dangerous nonsense be stopped? Should governments be allowed to prevent people from spreading baseless claims, especially if there is a threat to people’s health? Or should people be free to say whatever they like, whatever the consequences? Isn’t it better to squash silly ideas with sensible counterarguments rather than silencing them? What do you think?

Writing skills

No one can know everything. That means, if we want to find out something, we have to rely on trusted sources of information. Write a set of instructions for how to carry out research in a way that reduces your chances of being tricked into believing misinformation. Don’t forget to use sequencing conjunctions and imperative verbs.


There have been all sorts of conspiracy theories recently, from the claim that the last US election was ‘stolen’ from Donald Trump to the idea that the Earth is flat rather than spherical. Sadly, many people still believe these ridiculous ideas, despite being shown clear evidence to the contrary. Just for fun, invent your own conspiracy theory. Outline what your ludicrous claim is and support it with evidence that you present using persuasive language, no matter how daft your claim is. Make sure it does not make harmful or unpleasant claims (just in case someone is crazy enough to actually believe it!). Hold a vote to decide who has invented the most entertaining or believable conspiracy theory in your class.


Research up to three major vaccines, explaining what condition they provided protection against. If possible, provide figures for how many people caught each disease before the vaccine was made available and how many suffered from it afterwards.

What is First News?

To find out more about how First News could help your school unlock the power of news-based learning, through high quality, weekly resources alongside the print and digital newspaper, visit the First News Education website.

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