Delta Air Lines goes anti-vaccine

I have many, many patients and their families who are very active travelers. Business flights, vacation trips … some of you really rack up the miles.

It is with shock and disappointment that I must report; Delta Air Lines has made a very poor choice.

An ad, produced by the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), is currently being shown to passengers on Delta flights through the month of November. The ad encourages viewers to get “information” about influenza, and the flu vaccine, from the NVIC website.

This is a deceiving double-cross. The NVIC is a well-known anti-vaccine organization. The NVIC website is not a reliable source of information about any vaccine, nor vaccine-preventable disease. This organization openly opposes the recommended vaccine schedule for American children, and encourages the dangerous choice to decline all immunizations.

By airing this advertisement, the NVIC is clearly attempting to spread lies about vaccines by riding under the wing of a large American corporation. And it is appalling that Delta seems happy to oblige.

A letter was sent to the CEO of Delta Air Lines, from the President of the AAP, expressing disapproval. Tragically, even after the letter alerted Delta to the issue, they decided that being a flying billboard for a notorious anti-vaccination organization really wasn’t so bad. They are still airing the ad through the month of November.

Influenza kills healthy people and children. These deaths number in the thousands internationally. We are a global community. And the very vector facilitating our ability to travel to the ends of the earth, is promoting the spread of disease.

The best protection against influenza is hand-washing, and the influenza vaccine. The flu vaccine is safe, effective, and life-saving for some individuals. And the decision to vaccinate should be a discussion with a trusted health care provider.

Physician and vaccine advocate, Dr. Val Jones, writes, “Vaccines are probably the safest, most effective and affordable public health measure ever discovered by medical science.”

I agree. This is a threat to public health. This is a threat to something I stand for, and something I defend. I will not allow this act to go unnoticed.

As for me, I will not fly Delta.

In addition, I have signed this petition. If you also believe that playing anti-vaccine messages during in-flight entertainment is unconscionable; sign the petition, too.

During this holiday travel season, stand up against this terrible decision by “shopping with your feet.” Go elsewhere. Don’t give your money to a company who would facilitate the spread of a dangerous message.

For those of you on Twitter, share your displeasure with the hashtag #DontFlyDelta.

Our voices need to be heard. Join me.

Natasha Burgert is a pediatrician who blogs at KC Kids Doc.

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