American Airlines is planning to run disproved and dangerous anti-vaccination propaganda from The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), via it's in-flight "Executive Report" media and "American Way" magazine, from July to August.
Citing fraudulent research, the material contains claims that vaccines cause autism, a false claim that whooping cough vaccination "is not working" having caused "a much more deadly disease", and wrongly suggests this is already happening with measles, mumps and potentially other diseases. Passengers are then directed to the AVN website.
A 2010 investigation into the AVN by the Health Care Complaints Commission of New South Wales resulted in findings that the AVN website:
1) Provides information that is solely anti-vaccination.
2) Contains information that is incorrect and misleading.
3) Quotes selectively from research to suggest that vaccination may be dangerous.
With no scientific backing or qualified staff the AVN lobby against the Australian Government successful "Immunise Australia" program. Their website provides step by step instructions on how to complete and have signed a Conscientious or Medical Objection to vaccination form, which they provide.
Whilst clearly promoting an "informed choice" against vaccination they state: "...the AVN disclaims any and all responsibility for that choice."
International travel is a primary means by which vaccine preventable diseases are spread. By allowing misinformation that is against all medical advice on disease prevention American Airlines is complicit in denying it's passengers full protection under health and safety. High levels of whooping cough and accompanying infant fatalities in Australia and the USA are linked to low immunisation levels.
The CDC reported the highest number of measles cases in 15 years for 2011. 90% were imported. 86% were unvaccinated or of unknown vaccination status. The CDC also fears the USA is at risk of a measles outbreak as travellers return from the London Olympics. By perpetuating the myth that vaccination is linked to autism, American Airlines is compounding a most serious public health issue.
I note that after a similar situation Delta Airlines reviewed approval processes for in-flight material. I would urge American Airlines to do the same.
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