Rethinking Healthcare

Anti-vaccine ad to run in Times Square on New Year's Eve

Posting in Cities

A 15-second spot by the National Vaccine Information Center will light up on a 5,000 square-foot megatron. The ad is criticized as spreading "needless fear about childhood vaccinations."

A "vaccine education message" will be lit up on a full color, 5,000 square-foot LED screen during the New Year’s Eve celebration in New York’s Times Square.

The 15-second ad is sponsored by the National Vaccine Information Center, which says it’s dedicated to preventing vaccine injuries and death.

The ad’s being shown twice an hour for 21 hours a day on the ABC Full Circle TSQ Digital megatron above the TKTS ticket booth since 16 December. The spot begins with “Vaccines: Know the Risks” and ends with “Vaccination: Your Health. Your Family. Your Choice” with the statue of liberty in the background. There’s also a woman holding a baby.

Here’s a look at that video.

“Knowledge is the key to informed consumer decision-making,” NVIC’s Barbara Fisher says in a press release. “Everyone has the right to know about the benefits and risks of products and choose the kind of preventive health care they want for themselves and their children.”

This past spring, NVIC cosponsored a very similar message on the CBS JumboTron, another display in Times Square.

Around that time, Wired reported that “anti-vaccine groups are still working hard to spread their scientifically-unsupported message to the masses.” That NVIC, which sounds like a government agency, is in fact the “most powerful anti-vaccine organization in America.”

A petition has been posted on change.org demanding the removal of this ad, saying it “spreads needless fear about childhood vaccinations.” According to the petition, since August 2011, the New York City Department of Health has confirmed 126 cases of whooping cough – a serious and potentially fatal (for infants) disease that vaccines defend against.

Earlier this year, I posted about how the author of a retracted paper – that said that childhood vaccines cause autism – has now been called out for deliberately falsifying data.

Via Skepchick.

Image from NVIC

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Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure