TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 2018

Outcry over anti-vaccine ad on airline

A video commercial sponsored by the anti-vaccine National Vaccine Information Center now playing on Delta flights has caused backlash from a pediatrician organization, prompting the airline to review its approval process for in-flight programming.
The approximately three minute public service announcement put on by the organization describes alternative methods to preventing the flu besides getting the flu vaccination. The advertisement also includes a statement by Barbara Loe Fisher, the co-founder and president of NVIC, saying that the flu shot doesn't effectively protect against nearly 80 percent of influenza cases, ABC News reports.  

Richard Besser, the chief health and medical editor of ABC News, said that the ad leaves out the importance of the flu vaccine.
"Flu vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the flu," Besser said, according to ABC News. "This was not made clear in the ads from the National Vaccine Information Center."
In a letter to Delta, Robert Block, the president of them American Academy of Pediatrics, urged the company to think about removing the ads.
Displaying NVIC's message on Delta flights is, "putting the lives of children at risk, leaving them unprotected from vaccine-preventable diseases," Block wrote, according to ABC News.
In its response to the AAP, Delta conceded that the video does not point to vaccines as the primary source for flu prevention.
"Therefore, we have changed our internal review processes and procedures to help ensure that submitted content is vetted differently going forward," Barbara Martin, Delta's general manager of occupational health, wrote in response, according to ABC News.
The paid commercial will run on Delta flights through November, which fulfills the two parties' contract.
This is not the first time NVIC has received backlash for its public service announcements. In March, the AAP wrote a letter asking CBS to remove NVIC's video ad that played on the station's Jumbotron in Times Square.
"What concerns me is that there's an attempt to demonize consumer advocates and to isolate and eliminate us from the public conversation about an important public health topic," Fisher said, according to ABC News.
In December, the vaccine advocacy group Every Child By Two will display its PSA on Delta flights calling for everyone six months and older to receive a flu shot. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 49,000 Americans die from flu-related complications each year.