The vaccine wars have moved to higher ground: the cabins of Delta airplanes.
A leading group of pediatricians has warned Delta Air Lines that an ad being aired on some of its flights is "putting the lives of children at risk, leaving them unprotected from vaccine-preventable diseases."
The ad, sponsored by the National Vaccine Information Center, focuses on such preventive measures as handwashing and tells viewers to question "vaccines your doctor may recommend" -- with some serious emphasis on the "may." Never mind that federal guidelines do recommend a host of vaccines for children -- including influenza -- within months of being born.
In a letter to Delta's chief executive, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote, "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."
As for those who resist vaccinations because of autism fears,another Health article points out: "The link between autism and vaccines — famously put forth in a 1998 article by Dr. Andrew Wakefield in the British medical journal Lancet that was later found to be fraudulent — has been debunked by a variety of medical studies."
"Why would you delay vaccines?" said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "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?"
The Age of Autism is carrying a response:
NVIC co-founder and president Barbara Loe Fisher responded, “Without cause, the AAP has used their considerable financial resources and political influence to intimidate Delta for simply showing a video that offers accurate information about ways to stay healthy during the flu season, including talking with doctors about getting a flu shot. Censorship and attacks on consumer advocacy groups working to institute informed consent protections in public health policies should not be tolerated in this or any society that cherishes free speech and the right to self determination.”