I Flu Delta: An Action Alert

The National Vaccine Information Center, an organization ironically misinformed about vaccines, is running an ad on Delta Airlines flights through the entire month of November.

The video is not embed-able, so you’ll have watch it on YouTube or Facebook. Update: The ad is back on YouTube, new link.

You may remember the NVIC from their previous work… like running an anti-vax ad in Times Square that was condemned by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This new ad is especially insidious, because like everything the NVIC does to scare and misinform people, they hide their disgusting germy nougat inside a science-based candy shell. In this case, Barbara Loe Fisher spends the majority of the video talking about how you need to wash your hands and not spray your boogers on people to do your part to not spread snot-borne illnesses. Which, I have to agree, is good advice.

But she’s a tricky trickster.

The video starts with Loe Fisher informing you that no one really gets the flu. People get sick, sure, but not really the flu so much. The flu is a non-thing. Some people get it, but no one really gets it. Everyone just gets sick. Generic sick.

So the ad is not talking about how to prevent the spread of flu at all (while pretending to actually care whether or not you get the flu.) She’s talking about how to stop the spread of illness. This is an important, but subtle detail. Because if no one gets the flu, and everything else can be prevented by washing your hands, exercising and eating at salad bars (seriously?)… then you don’t need to vaccinate against the flu. Flu shots aren’t even necessary. (Even if salad bars are arguably the number one reason to get vaccinated against everything always.)

So for all the people who aren’t going to go to the NVIC site to get their brains injected with fear and infectious disease, they still walk away from the ad with two important pieces of information:

  1.  The flu isn’t really a threat
  2. Even if it is, you can just wash your hands and exercise and you won’t get it.

But the flu is real, and it kills thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of people every year in the US alone. And it kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. And that’s not even counting the places where we cannot get good stats because the developing world is filled with places where we simply cannot measure the spread of the flu.

For most people, the flu isn’t a big deal. You get sick; you get miserable; you take a few days off of work; you chug NyQuil and Gatorade, sleep and eventually you get better. We think of the flu as something that’s dangerous if you live in places where no one has access to over-the-counter medicines and sports drinks. But the fact is that for pregnant women, people with chronic disease, weakened immune systems, babies, and otherwise healthy people with conditions like asthma can be severely affected by the flu. They need to get their shots… and really, they need you to get your shots, too. ETA: And let’s not forget the H1N1 outbreak, where young, healthy, strong people ended up hospitalized and even dying from the flu. You don’t have to be in a risk group to have serious, deadly, complications from the flu.

What’s especially scary to me about this ad is that it’s being run on airplanes. Airplanes are like infectious disease pods traveling 35,000 feet up in the sky. Everyone crammed in together, touching each other, touching hand rails, touching your arm rest, touching their boogers because they forget that the window seat isn’t an invisibility shield, half-assed washing their hands because the water pressure is terrible and the soap dispensers are all broken. (Seriously… I don’t give a shit about crashing into the ground or bomb-strapped terrorists. I’m worried about MRSA.)

And let’s not forget that NVIC’s ultimate goal here is not to get people to opt out of just the flu shot. The ultimate goal of this ad is to get people to visit the NVIC website, trick them into thinking they’re looking at a legitimate government website, and get them to stop vaccinating altogether. And then put those people on planes. Which is how many vaccine-preventable outbreaks happen in the US. The following are screen shots from the ad where they show two “random”



It’s almost subtle, isn’t it?

But the good news is that I’m here to provide you with a place to voice your outrage! In fact, I’m providing you with many outlets for your rage. Because I’m pro-rage outlet and anti-getting the flu. If I’m going to chug a bottle of Tussin, I want it to be because I’m an irresponsible college student who can’t afford booze and can’t find weed*. Not because I’m coming down with pneumonia because I got the flu on a Delta flight back from Padre.

And if that’s too many options for you, here’s my suggested plan of attack, in order and by importance:

  1. Sign petition
  2. Tweet: “#fludelta @DeltaAssist @Delta If you’re so concerned about safety, stop running potentially deadly anti-vaccine ads”
  3. Comment on the video on Facebook
  4. Share this post on Facebook and Twitter
  5. Encourage your friends to join this campaign.

Tell Delta that it’s irresponsible to encourage anti vaccination rhetoric. Let them know that you are not willing to support their decision to risk your health for advertising dollars. Ask them if they’re willing to add to the anti-vax body count.


If you are looking for an alternative to flying Delta because of this ad, the Every Child By Two Campaign is running vaccine advocacy PSAs on US Airways and American Airlines through the month of November. I would highly recommend sending your business to them.


Update 11/7/11:

Still no word from Delta, but Sullivan at Left Brain Right Brain is reporting that the American Academy of Pediatrics has written a letter to Delta urging them to remove the ad:

November 4, 2011


Richard Anderson
Chief Executive Officer
Delta Air Lines

Dear Mr. Anderson,

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) objects to the paid advertisement/public service message from the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) being shown throughout the month of November on Delta’s in-flight programming. The ad urges viewers to become informed about influenza and how to stay well during the flu season without resorting to the influenza vaccine.

While hand washing and covering sneezes are parts of a larger strategy to prevent the spread of influenza, influenza vaccine continues to be the best way to protect against the disease. It is especially important in enclosed settings where disease droplets can easily spread to passengers sitting in close quarters, especially infants and children and those with special health care needs.

The AAP and many other child health organizations have worked hard to protect children and their families from unfounded and unscientific misinformation regarding vaccine safety. The influenza vaccine is safe and effective.

By providing advertising space to an organization like theNVIC, which opposes the nation’s recommended childhood immunization schedule and promotes the unscientific practice of delaying or skipping vaccines altogether, you are putting the lives of children at risk, leaving them unprotected from vaccine-preventable diseases. Diseases like influenza can have serious consequences. From September 2010 to August 2011, 115 children died from influenza disease, most of whom were unvaccinated.

The AAP’s 60,000 member pediatricians urge you to remove these harmful messages, which fail to inform the public about the safety and efficacy of influenza vaccine. Please do your part to help reassure parents that vaccinating their children is the best way to protect them from influenza disease, particularly during this busy travel season.

*Seriously kids, say no to Tussin… unless you’re coming down with pneumonia.



Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. November 3, 2011 at 10:21 am —

    The video starts with Loe Fisher informing you that no one really gets the flu. People get sick, sure, but not really the flu so much. The flu is a non-thing. Some people get it, but no one really gets it. Everyone just gets sick. Generic sick.
    No one really is stupid. People are dumb about some things, sure, but not really stupid so much. Stupidity is a non-thing. Some people act stupid, but no one is really stupid. Everyone just gets dumb. Generic dumb.
    No wait, that is not generic dumb. That is fucking stupid.
    Too bad there’s no vaccine for that.

  2. November 3, 2011 at 10:27 am —

    If Delta airline’s policy is to advise its passengers and crew NOT to get vaccinated and then I get the flu from a Delta passenger and I end up in the hospital because I have asthma, I should be able to sue Delta airlines. Or my family could sue if I die.

    • November 3, 2011 at 10:30 am —

      1. Delta does not want to deal with me if something happens to you.
      2. Delta does not want to deal with me or the entire skeptical community if Surlies go out of production.

      Shit just got real up in here.

    • November 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm —

      This would be an epic Delta fail. Signed and tweeted, and I put up a comment at Delta’s Facebook page:

      For everyone else:

      Post your comments, sign the petition, and then tweet it and post it to your wall.

      Need incentive? Imagine a world with no Surlies.

      I know… I know… I shudder at the thought, too… it’s okay. We can avoid this apocalypse.



    • November 4, 2011 at 7:02 pm —

      Actually, it should only concern you if you ‘do not’ get vaccinated. You know…if you believe that it protects you. Most people who make the informed decision not to get the vaccine know the proper precautions health-wise to avoid it. I don’t get it and I can’t tell you the last time I’ve had the flu. I avoid sugar, take supplements that strengthen my natural immunity, get the sleep I need and am perfectly happy to not get the vaccines. (Which, biology professors have said rarely are the ‘right strain’ by the time flu season comes around. They, a year before, try to figure out the path the flu will mutate and you get it based on that…but it usually mutates so quickly that the likelihood you’ll be vaccinated against it is not huge. Just a chance.) But again, if you’re worried and think it will protect you well, get the vaccine and don’t worry about everyone else who chooses not to.

      • November 5, 2011 at 11:07 am —

        Are you a naive but well-meaning person who has been led down the path of unreason by magical thinking about “natural” health care, or a willfully ignorant idiot, or a dangerous sociopath trying to make money selling snake-oil and water to the victims of horrible diseases?

        Your claims are incorrect. Even in years when the strains selected by the CDC to include in the vaccine turn out to not be well-matched to the strains in circulation (which is unusual), the vaccine still provides 50% or better protection. In good years, which are far more common, it’s more like 90%. See the CDC summaries here and here.

        It’s not a matter of “if you believe that it protects you.” Belief doesn’t enter into it. It’s a matter of proven medical science. “Belief” is the acceptance of conclusions without evidence. “Skepticism” is the rejection of belief and acceptance of conclusions only when they are based on evidence. This is a skeptical web site. Don’t come here expecting to convince anyone of anything by waving your baseless beliefs at us. Especially don’t cite Mike Adams and his well-known idiocy.

        • November 5, 2011 at 8:53 pm —

          Especially don’t cite Mike Adams and his well-known idiocy.

          From a Space Ranger to a Health Ranger shouldn’t there be some sort of Ranger brotherhood that should preclude sniping in pub…

          Oh man. I couldn’t even get through that.

          Never mind. Go get her.

          • November 5, 2011 at 8:57 pm

            “You’re not a health ranger. YOU ARE A TOY.”

        • November 5, 2011 at 9:43 pm —

          Bravo!!! Well said. :0)

        • November 5, 2011 at 10:52 pm —

          How about I site these guys? “There is no evidence that any influenza vaccine thus far developed is effective in preventing or mitigating any attack of influenza. The producers of these vaccines know that they are worthless, but they go on selling them anyway.” Dr. J. Anthony Morris (former Chief Vaccine Control Officer at the FDA). “Live virus vaccines against influenza and paralytic polio, for example, may in each instance cause the disease it is intended to prevent.” Dr Jonas Salk, developer of first polio vaccine (Science 4/4/77 Abstracts) “There is no evidence that any influenza vaccine thus far developed is effective in preventing or mitigating any attack of influenza. The producers of these vaccines know that they are worthless, but they go on selling them anyway.” Dr. J. Anthony Morris (former Chief Vaccine Control Officer at the FDA. “Official data have shown that the large-scale vaccinations undertaken in the US have failed to obtain any significant improvement of the diseases against which they were supposed to provide protection.” Dr A. Sabin, developer of the Oral Polio vaccine (lecture to Italian doctors in Piacenza, Italy, Decemebr 7th 1985) “In our opinion, there is now sufficient evidence of immune malfunction following current vaccination programs to anticipate growing public demands for research investigation into alternative methods of prevention of infectious disease.” Dr’s H. Buttram and J. Hoffman (Vaccinations and Immune I Malfunctions)

          And I only respond with, ‘get it if you truly believe it will protect you’ because there is no need for anyone to be concerned with other’s choices if they are protected by their scientifically-backed-flu shot. I find this to be less of a skeptic site and more of a trash-others-who-believe-differently site. Just sayin’…

          And guess what? Science isn’t exact. Science, (gasp) has been wrong before. I don’t believe they set out to do harm to anyone. I know it is good that there is research and they are attempting to protect us. However, I find it ironic that team science was excited about people who got H1N1 because they had the best antibodies for it. Their bodies made it. Why are we so afraid of letting our own bodies protect us? We’ll all die one day. And if we can prevent it a little longer, great. But the process is evolving.

          And btw…why has the flu vaccine been banned for those under 5? ‘Cause weren’t they supposed to get it before? OH…that’s right. They’ve recanted that. Now they’re NOT supposed to get it.

          A mind convinced against its will is of the same opinion still, as the old saying goes.

          Jest aside, I hope we all have a healthy Fall/Winter. And…I’m just being ‘skeptical’ about the science that seems to keep changing…but I guess you only appreciate skepticism when it goes along with your opinion?

          • November 6, 2011 at 1:42 am

            “Decemebr 7th 1985”

            Newsflash: microbiology and vaccine science has advanced a bit in the last 26 years. In the future actually post the journal, title, date and author of the studies. And it seems the date is important for this one.

          • November 6, 2011 at 4:12 am

            When you switch your quotes from being a direct link to NaturalNews to using their research to bolster your arguments it really doesn’t help to make you appear unbiased.

            Using an argument to authority also does not help.

            1). There is no evidence, outside of anti-vax sites like,, and, that Dr. Morris ever said what is being attributed to him.
            2). All of these quotes, even those that can be proven, are taken out of context; a favorite technique of the anti-vax crowd.
            3). There are many real scientists who become enamored by alternative treatments, Linus Pauling’s vitamin C infatuation later in life for example, which does not mean that the alt-med modality is real.
            4). And the most important, vaccines work to varying degrees even flu vaccines and, while flu vaccines may not be as effective as others for the reasons you mention, they are still far better than no vaccine.

            I understand you want control over your health care but, while avoiding (excess) sugar and getting plenty of sleep is always a good idea and taking supplements is, for most healthy people with a varied diet, unnecessary to potentially dangerous and will not “boost you natural immunity” as that is a nonsense phrase, you need to think beyond yourself. If you get the flu you can give it to someone else not surprisingly but if you get exposed to the virus without getting the disease you can also pass it on; and that is where the problem lies with the everyone-do-their-own-thing approach to vaccinations, if those-who-will-probably-be-okay-without don’t cover for those-who-can-not-partake the entire chain falls apart.

            As for I find it ironic that team science was excited about people who got H1N1 because they had the best antibodies for it. Their bodies made it. Why are we so afraid of letting our own bodies protect us?

            Yes the body made the antibodies when exposed to the virus, that’s exactly what vaccines do; expose us to the virus without giving us the disease. A win-win so to speak.

          • November 6, 2011 at 11:40 am

            There is no evidence Dr. Morris ever actually said the quote you (and attribute to him. See For more background on Morris and the lack of sources for the Salk quote, see

            For what it’s worth… Your entire comment is an argument from authority, in all cases either questionable or outdated (by 40 or 50 years!) or out of context or apocryphal authority. I focused on Dr Morris because, since you quoted him twice, you obviously find him important. But I don’t expect facts or corrections of errors to be much use in changing non-evidence based opinions, see this somewhat depressing post by Mark Crislip.

  3. November 3, 2011 at 10:28 am —

    Here’s what I left on the FB walls and comment sites:

    As an airline customer and concerned citizen, I disapprove of the misinformation campaign by the National Vaccine Information Center on Delta flights. Though precautions like hand-washing and getting enough rest are a good idea for staying healthy during flu season, the call to “be an informed health care consumer” is a call to check out their un-scientific misinformation about vaccines.

    This misleading ad should be taken off all flights, and concerned citizens can get real vaccine information at,, and other reputable sources.

  4. November 3, 2011 at 11:05 am —

    So it looks like they’re deleting comments on the Facebook page. I mean, it’s possible that Facebook is just glitching, but my comment and the ones that were there when I commented are all gone now, so . . .

  5. November 3, 2011 at 11:10 am —

    I don’t need any more reasons than the possibility of a future with no more surlys. It’s signed, tweeted and commented (for now)

  6. November 3, 2011 at 11:28 am —

    Funny I just posted to someone on FB who said ‘If you don’t want to get the flu eat your greens! You don’t need a flu shot’. I responded that I do both. Just because I’ve never had the flu doesn’t mean I can’t carry it to someone without my kicka$$ immune system (so far anyway). Say like my 76 year old mother.

  7. November 3, 2011 at 11:36 am —

    And now the YouTube video is gone. I think they’re getting the message, it will be interesting to see if they just attempt to hide from criticism or actually respond…

  8. November 3, 2011 at 12:56 pm —

    Signed, commented, shared.

  9. November 3, 2011 at 12:57 pm —

    Elyse, I have one bone to pick…

    You wrote:

    “We think of the flu as something that’s dangerous if you live in places where no one has access to over-the-counter medicines and sports drinks. But the fact is that for pregnant women, people with chronic disease, weakened immune systems, babies, and otherwise healthy people with conditions like asthma can be severely affected by the flu. They need to get their shots… and really, they need you to get your shots, too.”

    People like you described are more likely to have a severe case of the flu than healthy people with well-functioning immune systems, but anyone can get a severe case.

    Since there is so much emphasis on protecting vulnerable people in the public health information about the flu, it is a little hard to locate definitive statements about the risks for otherwise healthy people, but I did find “We think of the flu as something that’s dangerous if you live in places where no one has access to over-the-counter medicines and sports drinks. But the fact is that for pregnant women, people with chronic disease, weakened immune systems, babies, and otherwise healthy people with conditions like asthma can be severely affected by the flu. They need to get their shots… and really, they need you to get your shots, too.” in this CDC pamphlet.

    People are really bad about assessing relative probabilities, so any time someone says things about “these people are at higher risk”, there is danger that some people will think things like “I’m not in any of those groups, nor is anyone in my immediate family nor any of my co-workers (toupee fallacy), so I don’t need to vax.” In fact, everyone over the age of 6 months, other than the rare individuals in the small list of exceptions, should get their annual flu vaccination.

    • November 3, 2011 at 1:06 pm —

      Damn, we need edit!

      I re-pasted your quote instead of the CDC quote, which is

      “Also, it’s possible for otherwise healthy people to develop severe illness”

  10. November 3, 2011 at 3:29 pm —

    It would behoove you to read a little research before you start yammering about these things, so I’ll just leave this here:

    My more extended commentary on flu vaccination myths:

    • November 3, 2011 at 3:39 pm —

      Oh boy, the alt med fairy is here. Yipee!!

    • November 3, 2011 at 3:52 pm —

      “Research” like a Cochrane review with the alarmist title “Vaccines for preventing seasonal influenza and its complications in people aged 65 or older” that actually concludes that“The available evidence is of poor quality and provides no guidance regarding the safety, efficacy or effectiveness of influenza vaccines for people aged 65 years or older. To resolve the uncertainty, an adequately powered publicly-funded randomised, placebo-controlled trial run over several seasons should be undertaken.”?

      That kind of research?

      Fuck off troll!!

      I guess people who get their medical advice from chiropractors are just asking for teh stupid.

  11. November 3, 2011 at 4:05 pm —

    I commented on the In-flight media page and when I went back to see if there were more comments, the whole damn thing was gone! Not just my quote, everything was gone. Do you think they got the message, or are we just being silenced? At least someone is now aware of the issue.

  12. November 3, 2011 at 4:09 pm —

    Your defense of widespread flu vaccination has several logical flaws.

    1. the H1N1 flu had a lower mortality rate than seasonal flu, and EU investigations have revealed that the panic was motivated by drug companies who needed to sell off Tamiflu etc.

    2. Yes, the flu+pneumonia kills several thousand each year (90% of them >65). But the numbers you have heard of are usually quoted for flu+pneumonia, do you know what percentage of those are just flu?

    3. Influenza is not a single virus, and there is no single effective vaccine for it. Is there any evidence that the vaccine administered each season, is effective in preventing that particular flu? What is the correlation with the vaccines administered and the flu that becomes prevalent each season? If historically there is a low correlation, there is no good reason to get the vaccines. How accurate are the predictions of which strain will become prevalent? How much influence do pharmaceutical companies have on which vaccine is chosen?

    Have you even looked into this, or did you gobble up the establishment position without any critical thought? It’s funny what people think “science” means, who don’t have any experience doing actual scientific research. They associate it with some kind of establishment or established “method” (especially prevalent in people with a humanities background), because they have no first hand experience of actually doing basic science..

    • November 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm —

      1. [citation needed]
      2. Your argument is that if someone dies of complications from the flu, they don’t die of the flu? Like if you get shot, you don’t die from the bullet, you die of complications from the bullet… like bleeding or brain loss.

      And if science isn’t a method, then what is it? Please do enlighten me.

    • November 3, 2011 at 7:44 pm —

      Point 1, even if true, is a non sequitur. The relative mortality of H1N1 and other strains of flu has no bearing on the effectiveness or utility of the vaccines. But what’s worse, the 2nd (ad hominem) part of this is completely illogical. If in fact drug companies wanted to dump Tamiflu (why?), they would discourage vaccination, since unvaccinated people are much more likely to get the flu and to require treatment.

      Your points 2 and 3 are equally idiotic. You have clearly no understanding of influenza, vaccinations, epidemiology or logic, but you criticize Elyse for failing to look into the subject and not applying “any critical thought” to it? Did you bother to look at any of the links or any of her numerous previous posts on the subject, which present ample justification for the facts about vaccination and the horrors of infectious diseases she’s assumed in this post? Or is she required to spend 90% of every post rehashing previous information just to save lazy, ignorant crotchwads like you from having to look anything up?

    • November 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm —

      Roche provides additional donation of 5.65 million packs of Tamiflu to World Health Organization
      110 million Tamiflu treatment courses to be produced over next 5 months with increase to 36 million treatments per month by year-end if required

      Roche today announced a new donation to the World Health Organization (WHO) of 5.65 million courses of treatment of the antiviral drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir). This donation includes:

      Replenishment of the Regional Stockpile of 2 million treatment courses of Tamiflu to be held by the WHO and used to address regional outbreaks, Replenishment of the Rapid Response Stockpile of 3 million treatment courses of Tamiflu to be held by Roche and deployed under the direction of the WHO, Establishment of a new pediatric stockpile of 650,000 treatment courses of Tamiflu small (30mg and 45mg) capsules.

  13. November 3, 2011 at 4:16 pm —

    mrmisconception, while you do an excellent job of demonstrating the trouble some people have when their faith is challenged by data, you’ve done little to forward a rational discussion. Take a deep breath, have a sip of wine, maybe come back with more perspicuity and less vitriol?

    • November 3, 2011 at 5:02 pm —

      Oh, pelase. Stope concern trolling and being so condescending about it.

      He was replying to a clear troll. If not a troll, then someone who is certainly not going to change their mind about their “opinions”. Did you even look at what “evidence’ they posted? This person is delusional (if they aren’t a troll), and no matter how ~nice~ you are about your points, they aren’t going to change their mind.

      Besides, someone who posts that kind of crap in a blog or Skeptics is likely a troll.

  14. November 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm —

    @docaltmed —

    I’m not surprised to see that your “doctorate” is in chiropractics.

    Secondly, what WE call data is science and what you call data is, ummm, “alt science” … which, as anyone involved in true research would tell you, isn’t science at all.

    At least your views are commensurate with your voodoo woo occupation. You’re a self-glorified massage therapist with a make-believe title.

    • November 3, 2011 at 4:47 pm —

      Thank you Donna. You said what I was trying deperately to say between fits of apoplexia. You have just kept my head from asploding.

      @docaltmed – If there was any backbone (see, see what I did there?) in the Congress people like you would not be allowed to hang out a shingle and play doctor. You are either, as Donna said, a glorified masseuse or a quack that believes in spine goblin; neither of which are who I want to get medical advice from.

      When we use the term doctor around here it actual means something, and if you would like to practice medicine it had damned well mean M.D. or the like and not some phoney-baloney doctor of spinecrackery or whatever. If you would like to learn how the body really works get an education in real medicine. Doesn’t have to be a doctorate, just a course on first-aid at the Red Cross would be a step up for you.

      And stop with the “be more open minded” and “you’re being mean” bullshit. Poeople who are paid to dispense medical “advice” without training piss me off.

      • November 3, 2011 at 5:08 pm —

        I get the distinct feeling that disputationist and docaltmed are the same person.

        • November 3, 2011 at 5:17 pm —

          Oh, so also a master of sock-puppetry. ;)

          • November 3, 2011 at 5:23 pm

            It’s just a bit too convenient that they would both show up at the same time, and their “style” of writing is very similar.

            My vote is for sock puppet trolls who likely do believe the crap they are spewing.

          • November 3, 2011 at 5:23 pm

            One is in Dallas the other is at UC Davis. Not that they can’t be the same two people, but I’m guessing they’re probably not.

          • November 3, 2011 at 5:34 pm

            Damn. Convenient that we get an alt med troll … followed by an alt med troll defending previous alt med troll … wonder if they know each other, then? Doesn’t matter, anyway; both are clueless trolls!

          • November 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm

            Several people linked to this article when they posted to Delta’s Facebook page, so that may be where the trolls are finding us.

          • November 5, 2011 at 10:59 pm

            Actually, NVIC posted it on their website. :) There are many of us who believe all sorts of different things on there. My kids have had most vaccines, but do not get the flu shot. NVIC posts articles from both sides, actually. Their heart and goal is not to hide anything, but to put it all out there and let people make informed decisions. It states that on their site.

    • November 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm —

      Grr… that makes me stabby. As someone who spent years in an accredited university to earn my PhD people sullying the title is *mouth foaming**

      *wait… my mouth isn’t foaming… cause I got my dog a rabies vaccine shot and won’t get that disease now! (yay!)

  15. November 3, 2011 at 4:52 pm —

    2. Pneumonia is not just a complication from the flu, it can arise from various other causes.

    Science is NOT a method, it is a body of information about physical phenomena that is arrived at through different methods. It is not the method itself which makes something science (here is where humanities and non-science types go wrong, because it is easier for them to get wrap their heads around the idea that if someone uses the “right method” you will get scientific truth”) but the nature of the end product. For example, the cyclic structure of Benzene came to Kekule in a dream. Is using the content of your dreams the “scientific method”? But the scientific truth he postulated was no less valid than those arrived at through other methods.

    Why don’t you leave science education to the scientists. Popular journalism and cheer-leading of science by people without a rigorous education in the field they blather about does far more harm than good.

    • November 3, 2011 at 5:02 pm —

      For example, the cyclic structure of Benzene came to Kekule in a dream.

      The idea of the cyclic structure came to him in a dream, after which it was verified with science. See how that works? Dreams are only a state of mind and can not therefore deliver anything beyond information; and information that was already present in the first place. No amount of saying “other ways to know” will change that.

    • November 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm —

      Why don’t you leave science education to the scientists. Popular journalism and cheer-leading of science by people without a rigorous education in the field they blather about does far more harm than good.

      More harm than infectious diseases? Because I’m pretty sure that even if you’re right that I’m just a ditz in a cheerleader outfit, that still doesn’t mean that things like flu, measles, whooping cough and meningitis are things we want on airplanes… or anywhere.

      But what do I know? I’m clearly too stupid to understand any of your condescending words.

      • November 3, 2011 at 5:12 pm —

        Well Elyse,
        We unedumacated types are obviously dealing with a science-person-thingy.
        @disputationist – Please tell us what flavor your scince trainy-stuff comes in. Are you an astrologer, an alchemist, or maybe… I got it. I bet you’re one of those paramapchycholologists people. Them seem purty smart to me.

    • November 3, 2011 at 5:20 pm —

      . For example, the cyclic structure of Benzene came to Kekule in a dream. Is using the content of your dreams the “scientific method”? But the scientific truth he postulated was no less valid than those arrived at through other methods.

      Oh, give me a break. There is no way anyone would accept a dream as evidence. He did other work, including experiments that had been done. The final determination was done by a crystallographer several decades later. You really don’t know what you are talking about.

      Better information about influenza vaccine efficacy:

      • November 3, 2011 at 5:30 pm —

        Oh, c’mon now. That information is based on reality; what about the super-special sciency-sounding mystical-magical fairy-tale world of curative water and hobgoblins of the humours. I bet it doesn’t apply there. :P

    • November 3, 2011 at 6:04 pm —

      Science is NOT a method, it is a body of information about physical phenomena that is arrived at through different methods.

      Wow. Science isn’t a Method? Really? Golly Gee I guess my PhD in Biochemistry from UCLA taught me wrong. I learned that science was all about the method. You can get inspiration and ideas from elsewhere but it isn’t considered science until it’s undergone testing as per the scientific method. I’d better spread the word to my husband (MS from Caltech in organic chemistry), my coworkers (PhDs and MS from all over the place), the journals that publish research, the publishers of textbooks…..

      • November 3, 2011 at 6:35 pm —

        Preach it. You want to start a fight in a science department… start talking shit on someone’s method. Guess what scientists are all about that (method, not shit talking (okay, maybe occasionally shit talking as well)).

        We need to make sure that our methods are rigorous and replicable. Go up to a qualitative social scientist sometime and ask them to defend themselves as a science. That’s what 90% of our papers and work does because beyond the results THAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT PART!

    • November 3, 2011 at 8:09 pm —

      Science is NOT a method, it is a body of information about physical phenomena that is arrived at through different methods.

      It looks like you never took a science class with a lab.

  16. November 3, 2011 at 5:37 pm —

    Selection from the pitch from In-Flight Media Associates (IMA) for the fall “Cold, Flu and Fall Allergy Season” segment of Lifestyle365″

    ·Delta Air Lines: Segment to air for a full calendar month on over 17,375 flights in front of an average of 2.5 million passengers

    ·Delta and Virgin America’s fleets are equipped with WIFI, passengers watching the program can log into your website right from their seat using their laptops or smart phones and instantly make a donation and learn more about your cause

    ·Show reference in Sky magazine and (would link directly to your website).

    The cost was something less that $49,500.

    • November 3, 2011 at 6:41 pm —

      $50,000? It must be nice to have that kind of funding.

      Strangely, the WTF, who are supposedly in the pockets of Big Pharma, is stuck with a 3 digit advertising budget.

  17. November 3, 2011 at 5:39 pm —

    Tweet sent, and I took the offered flu shot by my doc today.

    Seriously, trolls, science works because it’s testable and changes with new information. Not through dreams, not through old antiquated nonsense that still hasn’t been proven yet.

    If my ditzy ass can figure this stuff out, you woo-pushers have no fucking excuse.

    Also, I’m totally stealing Donna’s “self-glorified massage therapist”…

  18. November 3, 2011 at 6:36 pm —

    I forwarded this to some of my colleges (Doctors) as well as to my parents. Yes, it pisses me off that much.

  19. November 3, 2011 at 6:37 pm —

    As an individual scientist, person with a less than stellar immune system <3 Skepchick.

    I signed and tweeted. The rest shall have to wait until I'm home.

  20. November 3, 2011 at 7:13 pm —

    Too soon to declare victory. The

    AND the vaccine advocacy non-profit, Every Child By Two (ECBT) had a pro-health, pro-vaccine video on the IMA website yesterday but is is gone now:

    Public Service Announcements to Appear on Times Square, Delta, US Airways, Virgin America

    Every Child By Two is excited to announce a new series of video messages airing during the months of November and December 2011.

    The first is a 3-minute influenza video which will be featured as part of in-flight programming called “Lifestyle365” aboard US Airways and Virgin America in the month of November and aboard Delta Airlines in the month of December. The video, which features messages about keeping the entire family healthy by attaining annual flu vaccinations, features Dr. Anne Schuchat, NCIRD Director, CDC and Amy Pisani, ECBT Executive Director, who discusses the hospitalization of her infant son due to influenza. To view the videos, which will be seen by approximately 3.7 million travelers please go to YouTube at and

    The first link (if I recall correctly) went to IMA’s YouTube channel and the ECBT video — it’s gone. The second link is ECBT’s copy.

    The second advertising effort will be on the Times Square Jumbotron–here’s the YouTube link for the PSA

    • November 3, 2011 at 7:35 pm —

      Total FAIL by me — ECBT video to be aired on Delta & Virgin not scheduled until December. I apologize.

  21. November 3, 2011 at 7:17 pm —

    For the idiot that claimed that pneumonia was not a complication of influenza,from The Mayo Clinic website:
    Complications of Influenza:
    If you’re young and healthy, seasonal influenza usually isn’t serious. Although you may feel miserable while you have it, the flu usually goes away with no lasting effects. But high-risk children and adults may develop complications such as:

    Sinus infections
    Ear infections

    Pneumonia is the most common and most serious. For older adults and people with a chronic illness, pneumonia can be deadly. The best protection is vaccination against both pneumococcal pneumonia and influenza.

  22. November 3, 2011 at 9:42 pm —

    At some point our ancestors are going to get out of their flying cars, step off the moving walkways to everywhere, and perform a national day of face-palming in remembrance of just how much we tried to undo everything science has given us so far.

    • November 4, 2011 at 10:32 am —

      You forgot the step of “and take off their hazmat suits”

  23. November 4, 2011 at 10:31 am —

    “Airplanes are like infectious disease pods traveling 35,000 feet up in the sky.”

    I don’t think there’s any evidence to support this claim. Is there? I’ve always heard that you’re not more likely to catch something on a plane, than anywhere else.

    • November 4, 2011 at 11:43 am —

      Having caught strep from the guy next to me on a plane, I would say that is easy to catch a disease where you are forced to sit for multiple hours next to several dozen people. And who can forget the SARS transmission:

      A quicky Google check shows many articles on infection transmission on airliners. Plus several articles on PubMed:

      BMC Med. 2009 Dec 24;7:81.
      Calculating the potential for within-flight transmission of influenza A (H1N1).
      Wagner BG, Coburn BJ, Blower S.

      BMJ. 2010 May 21;340:c2424. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c2424.
      Transmission of pandemic A/H1N1 2009 influenza on passenger aircraft: retrospective cohort study.
      Baker MG, Thornley CN, Mills C, Roberts S, Perera S, Peters J, Kelso A, Barr I, Wilson N.

      The last one says: A low but measurable risk of transmission of pandemic A/H1N1 exists during modern commercial air travel. This risk is concentrated close to infected passengers with symptoms. Follow-up and screening of exposed passengers is slow and difficult once they have left the airport.

      • November 4, 2011 at 12:35 pm —

        PubMed article Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 among Quarantined Close Contacts, Beijing, People’s Republic of China.
        also shows that airline travel is the least likely to get an infection (0.9%) over other places such as office buildings, or your household (greater than 5%).

        I’m not sure it’s worth calling an airplane an “infectious disease pod” any more than calling your house one as well, or your place of work, or any place were people get together.

        In reference to the articles you posted, the first (Calculating the potential for within-flight transmission of influenza A (H1N1).) said “These results imply that, during a pandemic, quarantining passengers who travel in Economy on long-haul flights could potentially be an important control strategy. Notably, our results show that quarantining passengers who travel First Class would be unlikely to be an effective control strategy.”

        The second one (Transmission of pandemic A/H1N1 2009 influenza on passenger aircraft: retrospective cohort study.) said “Their seating was within two rows of infected passengers, implying a risk of infection of about 3.5% for the 57 passengers in those rows. All but one of the confirmed pandemic A/H1N1 infected travellers reported cough, but more complex definitions of influenza cases had relatively low sensitivity.”

        So you have to be close to the infected person, and infections don’t seem to run ramped around the plane as one might think.

        Your anecdotal story about contracting strep from the guy sitting next to you hardly has to do with being in a plane and more to do with your proximity to the infected individual.

        • November 4, 2011 at 2:53 pm —

          True. And getting a flu shot decreases the chances that I would transmit influenza to the person in front of me as we wait to pay for groceries.

  24. November 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm —

    I appreciate the shout out for Every Child By Two’s flu video. We are actually also running it on Delta in December as well US Airways, American and Virgin America in November.

  25. November 5, 2011 at 2:32 pm —

    It is difficult to argue with irrational people who do not use science as a background. So – let me start with my credientials: I am a physician, and spent years working on virus in the lab – for which I published papers got a masters, bla bla (poor attempt at appeal to authority)
    Let us look at data for having a “great immune system” and getting sick from the flu — there is none. Zero. Zip. None.
    What is a great immune system – by the way? A great one is where you have immunity against the foreign agent (virus) – and the best way to do that is to have a vaccine.
    Have the alternative medicine people ever seen the reaction of any influenza virus in serum of someone taking one of their “immune fighting” supplements — NOPE – never published anywhere.
    As far as Delta- on their website they recommend people to become vaccinated. I am taking Delta to Anchorage tomorrow- will see what is on the flights and magazine.
    By the way- having a doctor of chiropractic medicine is the equivalent of having a doctorate in pseudoscience- it means someone spent a few years studying something that doesn’t exist. At least people who get doctorates in literature who study fairy tales know what is real.

  26. November 5, 2011 at 7:17 pm —

    The NVIC video is no longer on facebook—or should I say, no longer at the link that you had, Elyse. The video *is* at the new YouTube link … with NO description and with comments disabled.

    Phil has linked to this post. {yay!}

    And there is at least one facebook page bemoaning the fact that they are NOT the group that advocates lollipop mailing—’we would never do that!’—BUT they ARE a pox party group. Because that’s better. I left a comment. People followed suit. And they deleted all the comments that cropped up in a matter of minutes. WHERE IS THE CDC?!

  27. November 5, 2011 at 7:31 pm —

    I’m one of those who does not get a flu shot if I can avoid it. Not because my immune system is so strong (what a wonderful thing that would be), but because it is, on the contrary, quite weak. At least, weak in relation to viruses.
    If I get a flu shot, I’m likely to be out of action for 2 – 3 weeks. If I catch the flu, I’m likely to be out of action for 2 – 3 weeks. There is a chance I might not catch the flu in a given flu season, but if I get the flu jab, I am guaranteed to be affected. On a purely selfish cost-benefit analysis, it makes sense for me NOT to get the vaccine.
    On the other hand, when H1N1 came along, I got the shot, and had merely 3 or 4 days of reaction to it. Hmmm, does my body react differently to different vaccines? Probably. Will this change my decision not to be vaccinated against the flu? Probably not.
    I approve of the idea of vaccination. I think those who try to scare people out of vaccines need to be prosecuted if/when someone they have scared out of taking a vaccine dies due to it. I, however, having observed my body’s reaction to both flu without vaccine and its reaction to the vaccine itself, prefer not to take it in the case of flu.
    And I have the greatest respect for chiropractors – as long as they’re working on the damage to my spine. When they start telling me about vaccines, I’ll tell them where they can shove their advice. I do, however, reserve the right to wait until *after* they’ve finished working on my spine to tell them such. :-)

  28. November 7, 2011 at 10:48 am —

    I emailed Delta Customer Service and got an actual response back. Either it was written by real live human being or they have a really good automated system, since she addressed the points I made. Of course the response was not from a person who makes decisions about advertising, but at least I reached a human being there, who may be able to forward my comments to the right department.

    So a thank you to Michelle at Delta Customer Service, who also promised to get her flu shot.

  29. November 7, 2011 at 8:34 pm —

    In-Flight Media Contact Form is “temporarily down for maintenance.”

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