There’s ignorance, and then there’s dangerous, irresponsible, willful ignorance.
In a series of posts, the website HealthNewsReview exposed the bone-headed actions of Delta Airlines in showing an onboard video sponsored by an anti-science organization minimizing the importance of flu shots. The video “urges viewers to become informed about influenza and how to stay well during the flu season without resorting to the influenza vaccine.”
As you might imagine, the response has been vigorous, including an online petition to “tell Delta Airlines to stop putting their passengers’ health at risk.” The medical establishment weighed in formally in a letter to Delta CEO Richard Anderson from Dr. Robert W. Block, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). He wrote:
“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) objects to the paid advertisement/public service message from the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) being shown throughout the month of November on Delta’s in-flight programming….
While hand washing and covering sneezes are parts of a larger strategy to prevent the spread of influenza, influenza vaccine continues to be the best way to protect against the disease. It is especially important in enclosed settings where disease droplets can easily spread to passengers sitting in close quarters, especially infants and children and those with special health care needs.
The AAP and many other child health organizations have worked hard to protect children and their families from unfounded and unscientific misinformation regarding vaccine safety. The influenza vaccine is safe and effective.
By providing advertising space to an organization like the NVIC, which opposes the nation’s recommended childhood immunization schedule and promotes the unscientific practice of delaying or skipping vaccines altogether, you are putting the lives of children at risk, leaving them unprotected from vaccine-preventable diseases. Diseases like influenza can have serious consequences. From September 2010 to August 2011, 115 children died from influenza disease, most of whom were unvaccinated.”
Another physician, Val Jones, blogged about this dereliction of corporate responsibility as well, noting that the airline had ignored the righteous outcry and committed to running the video ads through November.
“Every year the influenza virus kills as many as 49,000 Americans and 500,000 individuals world-wide,” she writes. “… I don’t understand why Delta, having been duly informed of their mistake, would continue to run ads from a group that misinforms Americans about vaccine-preventable illness. I wanted to believe that they would do the right thing….”
“Which means that I will NOT be flying Delta in the foreseeable future and I hope you won’t either. When US physician organizations are flat out ignored by corporate executives, it leaves us with only one choice-to speak with our feet. Sadly, the bottom line may matter more to them than the health and safety of their passengers.”
If you wish to sign the online petition, link here. You may also Tweet your feelings to #DontFlyDelta hashtag.