Intentionally or not, Delta Airlines has put itself in league with anti-vaccine activists, airing an in-flight video segment that encourages viewers to avoid the flu vaccine. The rabidly anti-vaccine National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) created the video to push people to consider ways to avoid coming down with the flu while avoiding a vaccination.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) was quick to protest this video, writing a letter to Delta explaining the video s dangerous consequences. The influenza virus kills tens of thousands of Americans a year including many infants and children and 500,000 people around the world; it is not something to take lightly. As we have noted quite often, says ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross, the flu vaccine is the best way to defend yourself against this virus. It is easy to unknowingly become exposed to the flu virus, making the vaccine an especially important prevention measure. A person can be infectious for some time before showing signs and symptoms.
Yet despite the AAP letter, Delta has thus far decided to continue running the ads. ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan believes that Delta s refusal to remove these videos is endangering the health of passengers. Delta needs to take some responsibility for this, she says. Not only is this anti-vaccine argument nonsense, it is also dangerous, and could kill adults and children. Delta must remove this video, and give more thought in the future to what they are airing on their flights. ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom adds, Delta has full control of what they do and do not air. This is inappropriate. Would it be okay for them to show videos of how to build bombs? Ridiculous.
Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and an ACSH trustee, takes issue with the idea that people would consider delaying or avoiding these important vaccines. "Why would you delay vaccines?" he asks. "You have diseases like pneumococcus, whooping cough, Hib and chickenpox which can severely, and fatally, infect young children. Why would you ever take the chance?"