What We Have is a Failure To Communicate
Apr 27, 2011
Several weeks ago, there was a link to a petition that was posted on our Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page. The petition was in objection to an anti-vaccination ad running every hour from April 11th – 28th on the large CBS jumbotron in New York City’s Times Square.
If you didn’t know much about the organizations who have sponsored the ad – the National Vaccination Information Center (NVIC), in conjunction with Mercola.com – you just might think that they were providing viewers with government sponsored vaccine information. The concern is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. These two organizations are directly opposed to the government’s public health efforts and childhood vaccinations.
The debate over this ad is quite complex. However, in a recent Salon.com article, Dr. Parikh does a fine job of highlighting some of the most critical concerns with this anti-vaccination messaging.
One particular concern raised by this ad is one of ethics. If advertising messages are harmful to the health of the general population, is there no one who has a responsibility to restrict those messages? Should the organization that is selling the advertising space be held accountable for the advertising messages they display? Dr. Parikh explores these questions among others, and acknowledges his many concerns.
He explains that while we’ve become “savvy ad consumers, who roll our eyes at the claims of weight loss pills and miracle products,” he objects to the ad because he feels it is disguised as a public service announcement that ultimately directs parents to dangerous anti-vaccine messaging.
Dr. Parikh is also surprised by the “lack of outrage from the medical and public health community.” He explains that while “rational vaccine advocates remain quiet and polite”, claims about the dangers of vaccines go unchallenged. This is why he is calling for a “strong dose of passion” along with a campaign of powerful and unforgettable messages that emphasize a pro-vaccine position. Messages that will remind us that there are lives at stake here.
While the American Academy of Pediatrics has expressed concerns about this ad in a letter to CBS Outdoor, (the company responsible for placing the ad on the jumbotron), Dr. Parikh fears that this effort has not been forceful enough. He suggests that if the public health community and medical professionals would have the same audacity as NVIC, then perhaps it would be a fair fight.
For now, we are left to wonder, who will step up? Just how much of this information will be allow to go unchallenged? More importantly, how can we do a better job of communicating the importance of immunizations?
As more and more views of this ad drive traffic to the NVIC website, it appears that we do, indeed, have a failure to communicate.
For more great insights by Dr. Parikh on this subject, check out the full article here and let us know your thoughts regarding this issue.
This guest post was written by Alethea Mshar out of concern for her son Ben. A version of this post originally appeared on her blog Ben’s Writing, Running Mom. Like all parents, my child’s health...
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