Last week, Matthew Herper of Forbes wrote that:
Delta Airlines is “putting the lives of children at risk” by showing a video that downplays the importance of flu shots, according to a letter sent last week by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP says that the advertisement “urges viewers to become informed about influenza and how to stay well during the flu season without resorting to the influenza vaccine.”
The video, produced by the National Vaccine Information Center`(NVIC), is being shown as part of in-flight programming on some Delta Flights, and has resulted in angry blog posts and an online petition with 2,000 signatures that urges consumers to “tell Delta Airlines to stop putting their passengers’ health at risk.” The video is embedded in this story.
I had assumed that Delta would be grateful for the head’s up, and would immediately remove the infomercials. Instead, they chose to ignore the letter, denying that they saw any harm in associating themselves with anti-vaccine activists. Despite the warning, they will continue to run the ads through the month of November.
Every year the influenza virus kills as many as 49,000 Americans and 500,000 individuals world-wide. According to the CDC, the best defense against these often preventable deaths is the influenza vaccine. Since viral spread is especially likely in closed quarters where air from infected individuals is recirculated (such as in an airplane) it is critical for extra precautions to be taken before and during air travel. In addition to yearly flu vaccination, the use of alcohol-based hand wipes, regular hand washing, covering one’s mouth during coughing, are recommended. Since the flu virus can live in droplets outside the body for up to 48 hours, door knobs, seat covers and tray tables can spread the virus from passengers on previous flights.
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, but apparently they “signed out AMA” on this one.
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.
She also posts a petition against Delta and encourages Twitter users to use the #DontFlyDelta hashtag.