The All Too Friendly Skies


I like flying, despite security theater, lots of waiting, and ridiculously priced food. I still like it, despite having been seated next to a parent with a child who decided he needed to bang his head into my arm repeatedly, despite having been seated all to close to screaming kids, despite having sat behind the idiot who had to test his new cologne just as the plane door was closing.

What I truly dislike about flying is getting sick. Planes are crammed full these days, the air is recirculated and the kind of dry that gives certain bugs a big boost, and our fellow travelers are not the people with whom we normally exchange germs. If I fly when I’m stressed or short on sleep, I’m going to get sick.

I’m not the only one. Lots of people get creeping crud when they fly. People with tuberculosis shouldn’t fly. Unimmunized people who have been exposed to measles have been asked not to fly.

So why, of all places, would an anti-vaccination ad be playing on airplanes? From Elyse at Skepchick:

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.)

Ugh. And to use the flu for this campaign is particularly ignorant, since influenza is one of those viruses that really seems to love dry air like you get at altitude.

Delta is running the ad. Elyse has more information, both on why we need to take the flu seriously and what you can do to put pressure on Delta to stop spreading disinformation. At the very least, go sign the petition. For everyone who does, an email is sent to the people who are letting this go on.

After all, you’re already stuck with everybody’s sights, smells, and sounds on an airplane. The last thing you want is for someone to encourage your fellow passengers to bring more germs on board with them too.

Comments

  1. Pteryxx says

    for what it’s worth, I started wearing dust masks during plane flights a while back (available at pharmacies and hardware stores) and my incidence of post-airplane sickness went from 100% to about 25%.

  2. Chris says

    Would gladly sign, except the idiots who made that website think my email address is improperly formed. That would be news to google, since I’ve been using it for years

  3. Lauren Ipsum says

    The only thing which annoys me about the “flu shot” is that it has to be developed in advance of the actual flu season each year, and it’s always a guess as to which strains will be prevalent.

    Some years the guess is 95% accurate.

    Some years the guess is 50% accurate.

    I am all for science and all for vaccines, but I get cranky at the idea that I’m subjecting myself to an injection which may have a coin flip’s chance of not working.