I am not all that big on celebrity endorsements, but I do understand that they can be very beneficial in getting the word out on important topics ot people who might not otherwise hear it.
So I’m pleased to see that Jennifer Lopez did a short video about the benefits of vaccination against pertussis for a website called Sounds of Pertussis (created by the vaccine division of the pharmaceutical company Sanofi Aventis). The video calmly and rationally explains why it’s important to vaccinate for pertussis, also known as whooping cough.
Regular readers know my stance on this: pertussis can kill, as parents David and Toni McCaffery found out when their four-week-old daughter Dana died from it in 2009 — she was infected because not enough people had vaccinated their children, and the herd immunity in that area of Australia was too low. It’s important to talk to your physician about this and find out if you should vaccinate yourself and your loved ones.
The antivaxxers are loud about this issue, of course. Meryl Dorey and her Australian Vaccination Network have spread misinformation far and wide on this issue, even saying that pertussis doesn’t kill anyone… a statement that is so clearly false that it’s difficult to believe someone could honestly utter it. No doubt the antivaxxers will ooze out of the woodwork in the comments below — they always do — and make all sorts of similar false claims. And also no doubt we’ll see the attempts to poison the well by saying the JLo video was produced by a — gasp — pharmaceutical company!
Like Ben Goldacre, I am not a huge fan of a lot of the tactics used by those companies to sell drugs. But that doesn’t mean everything they do is wrong. Vaccinations, as I feel I must point out over and again, have saved hundreds of millions of lives, a number so huge it’s awe-inspiring. But so many antivaxxers seem to want to see us return to the days when children died of measles, when kids were confined to iron lungs when they couldn’t breathe due to polio, and people died by the millions from smallpox and other preventable diseases.