When they weren’t busy helping Luke Skywalker defeat the Empire, C-3PO and R2-D2 tried to prevent a whooping cough outbreak. In 1978, the Star Wars droids gave a public service announcement about the importance of childhood immunization. In the commercial, produced by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Threepio assures R2 that he’s not coming down with whooping cough because droids can’t get diseases. (Usually it’s C-3PO who’s the worrier of the two, but maybe R2 is a secret hypochondriac.) He points out that young children, unlike droids, are susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases like whooping cough, measles, and polio, which can have devastating effects.
“Parents of Earth, are your children fully immunized against childhood diseases? Call your doctor or local health department and find out,” C-3PO urges the viewer. “Immunize your children, please, and may the Force be with you.” Watch the spot above.
There was also a poster.
Star Wars characters also participated in PSAs about smoking (in 1983) and drunk driving (in 1979). But while smoking rates have gone down substantially in the ensuing 30 years, vaccination continues to be an urgent public health issue, with false or misleading information causing some parents to skip their children’s shots. For accurate information about vaccinations, download the CDC parents’ guide here — or just listen to C-3PO.