The non-profit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is sponsoring a vaccine education message during the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square on the 5,000 square-foot TSQ Digital screen at 47th St. and 7th Avenue in New York City. The 15-second ad, which encourages informed decision-making, has been shown on the megatron twice an hour for 21 hours a day since Dec. 16, 2011.
“In 2012, NVIC will mark our 30th year of public education and consumer empowerment,” said NVIC co-founder and president Barbara Loe Fisher. “With so many health care options available today, becoming an educated health care consumer is essential and our pro-informed consent message will be seen by millions on New Year’s Eve.”
I apologize as this is more commentary than usual.
Let’s be perfectly clear. The NVIC is not a government agency – they are a non-profit advocacy group. The NVIC exaggerates the hazards of vaccines and vaccine injuries. So much so that their ideas influences parents to NOT vaccinate their children. That is deadly.
Frankly, I don’t know how many people will pay attention to information ads on the Jumbotron in Times Square. Those spectators aren’t there for that. But the big picture is even bigger than that huge screen.
The answer to this is a coordinated effort by health professionals and other groups to call out the NVIC for what they are – anti-vax.
It’s going to take a long while to undo the misinformation. The best course may be positive vaccine awareness. Vaccines are one of the best things humans have ever invented to save lives from disease. That should be the point.
It’s time to be proactive instead of always reactive. Will pro-vax groups get on the marketing bandwagon?
UPDATE: David Gorski on Science-Based Medicine has a good commentary: Ringing in 2012 with…antivaccine propaganda?
As I said, NVIC has the Orwellian language down pat. It wraps up its antivaccine message in a cloak of “informed consent” and “educating the consumer,” and who could argue with that? Of course, it all comes down to what specifically is meant by “informed consent” and “educating the consumer.” As I described in detail, when an antivaccine propagandist like Barbara Loe Fisher refers to “informed consent,” what she is really referring to is “misinformed consent,” in which consumers are subjected to misinformation about vaccines that vastly overestimates the risks and vastly downplays the benefits or try to cast the benefits in a manner that makes them seem inconsequential, sometimes in hilariously off base ways. Often, antivaccine activists use even more hilariously bad science to bolster their misinformed arguments. Or the bad science would be hilarious if the consequences of its use weren’t so potentially deadly.