Cringe-worthy KTVL Channel 10 report about chicken pox vaccine

Rant Alert!

On January 15, 2015, KTVL, a local TV station serving our region, where we are currently experiencing a chicken pox/varicella outbreak and where public health officials are working diligently to promote the vaccine, started to get it right by interviewing La Clinica staff, but then blew it! They brought in a homeopath to weigh in with faint praise of the chicken pox vaccine, along with misinformation about alternative treatments for chicken pox and other viruses.

He said about the chicken pox vaccine (emphasis his): It “TENDS to be, in general, fairly efficacious and it also TENDS to be one of the lesser problematic vaccines…” “So I’m more inclined to recommend that vaccine over some of the other vaccines on the [CDC recommended] vaccine schedule” — clearly implying that many of the other recommended vaccinations are even less effective and safe.

I don’t see any credible science-based organizations suggesting that herbs, high dose vitamins, or especially homeopathy could offer effective treatments for VPDs (vaccine preventable diseases). It is harmful to promote dubious treatments in lieu of preventive vaccines, which have been shown to work and to be safe. (Of course vaccines are not 100% effective or risk-free. Not much is, if anything.)

Currently, Ashland’s immunization rates are too low to expect herd/community immunity to effectively shield the community from VPD outbreaks. Chicken pox and whooping cough outbreaks have occurred in the county. And with measles outbreaks gaining momentum around the country after Disney’s California theme park visitors were exposed to the illness, and given that measles is a more serious disease than chicken pox (which is serious enough!), it is egregious to me that KTVL decided to spread doubts about the need  for and the efficacy and safety of the CDC’s well tested, approved, regulated, recommended vaccinations.

Here’s the admittedly snarky response I just wrote on KTVL’s Facebook page:

“Whoa, KTVL, way to illustrate a cringe-worthy level of false equivalency in journalism by bringing in a homeopath to weigh in on a vaccine issue. You diluted the public health message by bringing in the homeopath. Since when are homeopaths experts on this topic?! If you were trying to bring “balance” to your reporting, you would have given a 300C homeopathic dose of coverage (meaning none) to a homeopath’s opinion and all your coverage to the nearly complete consensus among the actual experts worldwide who favor vaccine safety and efficacy. i hope you don’t do this again!”

More links:

A great article from Sciencebasedmedicine.org  about false equivalency in the media.

The KTVL broadcast on Facebook: “New developements in the chickenpox outbreak News10 has been following in Ashland.”

Concise article on the nonsense of homeopathy. (I warned my readers in my intro, don’t even get me started on homeopathy! You can blame KTVL for provoking me 🙂

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