Fly the Contagious Skies

Written by Herschel Lessin MD

As a practicing pediatrician and co-lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ national vaccine policy statement, I was horrified when I saw the news that Delta Airlines had accepted an ad broadcast during their in-flight entertainment that was sponsored by the National Vaccine Information Center.

This notorious anti-vaccine group with the deliberately misleading name, paid for a three minute “public service announcement” that is anything but “public service”.

In this commercial, the group tries to hide its virulent anti-vaccine positions behind comments that there are better ways to prevent the flu than a flu vaccine. They grossly misrepresent the results of a recent study on the efficacy of influenza vaccine, making it sound almost worthless, which was clearly not the case nor the conclusion of the authors of the study.

I wonder if anyone asked them why you cannot do both?? That thought would, of course, never cross their minds because it contradicts their scientifically unsupportable and dangerous position that vaccines are bad.

The President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Robert Block, has written Delta a strongly worded letter, as have other reputable scientific and medical organizations. Block wrote: Displaying NVIC’s message on Delta flights is, “putting the lives of children at risk, leaving them unprotected from vaccine-preventable diseases.”

He asked Delta to remove it. (This is the same group that put a huge billboard opposing vaccines in Times Square, which was taken down after widespread outrage at its misleading and false statements.)

Air travel in winter, with its increased risk of confinement in a closed space with hundreds of people and their illnesses, using a recycled air supply, is hardly the place I would want to place my children and myself at risk.

Here is the note that I wrote to Delta Customer Service on their website. I encourage everyone who cares about the health and safety of children to do the same.

As a pediatrician and Platinum Delta member, I am utterly appalled by your company’s poor judgment in running an anti-vaccine ad by the National Vaccine Information Center. This group is part of the anti-vaccine fringe who ignore all scientific evidence and promote fear about the totally unsupportable and disproven alleged risks of vaccines. This group and its ilk are responsible for putting countless children at risk for death and damages from vaccine preventable diseases due to their persistent and unsupported opinions about the risks of vaccines. This ad should be removed immediately. You should be ashamed of yourselves for spreading the distortions and mistruths promoted by the zealots running this group.

If you would like to protest Delta Airlines decision to run these ads, take a moment to sign this online petition by clicking on the link below

Dr. Lessin has been a practicing pediatrician in the Hudson Valley since 1982. He is a founding partner and serves as both Medical Director and Director of Clinical Research at the Children’s Medical Group