Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Vaccines and The Media

Childhood vaccines have been strongly debated in the media recently, both positively and negatively.


The National Vaccination Information Center (NVIC) has posted billboards in Tucson, Arizona; Chicago, Illinois; and Austin, Texas urging parents to check the risk of vaccinations. The non-profit organization believes there are gaps in science and that vaccines can be risky. The billboards were placed in states currently discussing vaccine exemptions.

Arizona is one of twenty states that allow vaccination exemption for personal beliefs. A bill recently failed in the legislature that would have required parents to get a doctor’s signature before exempting children from vaccination. Kathy Malking of the Pima County Health Department believes parents should be informed, but finds fault with the billboards and NVIC website. “It [the website] focuses on all the negatives of vaccines and doesn’t talk about any of the positive aspects and how vaccines have saved many lives,” she states.


Many websites and blogs spread misinformation, encouraging parents not to vaccinate their children. From Natural News to VacTruth, just running a google search on childhood vaccines brings up many anti-vaccination websites.

VacTruth published a blog post in April that stated the media uses propaganda to condition people to accept vaccines. VacTruth claims that pharmaceutical companies use propaganda and pay doctors to sell drugs, including vaccines. VacTruth goes on to state that the polio vaccine had little to do with the decline of polio. Unfortunately, VacTruth did not use any scientific research or studies as references for their blog post, the entire post was fueled by propaganda and anti-vaccine sources.

Greeting Cards

For the past eighteen years, Hallmark has run the “For America’s Babies” program, printing personalized greeting cards for new parents that include a detachable growth chart and immunization schedule. In a new addition to the program, Hallmark teamed up with twenty-seven state governors, and the cards now come from the governor, urging parents to vaccinate their children. 

The immunization schedule in the cards reflects the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) current recommendations. Hallmark pays for printing the cards in English and Spanish, and taxpayer dollars fund the small cost of distributing the cards to hospitals. Hospitals can choose whether or not to participate in the program.

The Florida greeting card is sent by Governor Scott and his wife Ann, and reads:

“Congratulations on the birth of your new baby! As you grow together in family and community, we encourage you to build your baby’s healthy imagination through reading and your baby’s healthy life through immunizations.”

In 2010, Florida ranked second for the percentage of children up to date on immunizations at 80%.

Vaccine Watch encourage parents to carefully consider all media they see and read about vaccines. Consult your pediatrician with questions about vaccines, as media like billboards and websites often only present one side of the argument.

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