Here at The Public’s Health we have not hidden the fact that we see vaccination as one of the great public health success stories of the 20th century, and hope that vaccines continue to have a similar benefit in the 21st. The effectiveness and safety of vaccination is well documented: many vaccine-preventable diseases from polio to measles to mumps have either largely been controlled or, in the case of smallpox, eradicated from planet earth. Risks from immunization are generally minor, but in very rare cases can be serious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a detailed explanation of vaccine-related risks on its website for all vaccines licensed for use in the United States. Your doctor or pediatrician should discuss these risks with you.
Even if you have doubts about vaccination, however, we hope that you continue to read and engage in dialog with us on vaccine-related issues. While our opinions are strong, we are sensitive to the myriad historical and personal reasons why different people come to oppose vaccination.
A post on this blog a few weeks back helped to expose a subtle but powerful anti-flu vaccine ad sponsored by the National Vaccine Information Center, an advocacy group, that was running on the in-flight entertainment system at Delta Airlines. (The link has been taken down, but NVIC is still featuring the video, which doesn't so much criticize vaccines as overemphasize every other conceivable form of protection.) The Public’s Health was one of the first news sources to cover the story. As coverage expanded - and criticism from the medical community grew - Delta issued a half-hearted apology for the fiasco. The airline claimed that while “the views represented in the PSA do not necessarily match those of Delta, we recognize that we have a responsibility to our customers to ensure all programming is relevant, accurate and does not lend itself to interpretation.”
Really? Do not necessarily match those of Delta? Does not lend itself to interpretation? Is Delta hedging on whether it is the anti-vaccine airline? Perhaps this is an underappreciated niche market that Delta is cultivating. I can see the new slogan now: “Keep Climbing In The Unvaccinated, Disease-Ridden Skies.” An ad campaign could illustrate the benefits of non-vaccination by showing a planeload of passengers with influenza, polio, measles, chicken pox, diphtheria, mumps, rubella, and hepatitis A and B, among others. Wouldn’t you want to "Keep Climbing," as Delta's official motto says, in those planes?