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Measles Vaccine Controversy: Public Relations Nightmare

What do vaccines, public advocacy by the pharmaceutical industry and the “tin foil hat” crowd have in common? We’ll get to all of this.┬áMeasles Vaccine Controversy: Public Relations Nightmare.

First, skipping your measles vaccination is not a good idea as measles are contagious and can lead to complications up to and including death. Getting a measles vaccination is easy, affordable and just about guarantees you will not catch the measles. So what’s the big deal? And where are the pharmaceutical companies and why are they not advocating for the vaccine?

Drug companies should be more aggressive in their advocacy for vaccines and drown out the "tin foil hat" crowd.
Drug companies should be more aggressive in their advocacy for vaccines and drown out the “tin foil hat” crowd.

Plenty of others have written about the bad data from a
vaccine study in the U.K. but I have another theory about why so many are not considering this or the vaccines. Trust, or a lack of trust.

Not trusting government is as American as the 4th of July. But it seems that lack of faith now extends to business. The “drug companies” seem to get the most attention in this space. Perfectly reasonable people believe that drug/pharmaceutical companies are actually in the business of perpetuating illness as a way to prolong diseases and increase their revenues. Views like this that were once only the views voiced from the “tin foil hat” and talk radio crowd are now more main stream in the era of Face Book and Twitter. If Mee-Maw saw it on the “Interwebs” then it must be true, right? Wrong.

This kind of nonsense will make you dead. It will also make other innocent people dead, sick or permanently disabled. The pharmaceutical industry has an opportunity to advocate for good health, vaccines and their considerable abilities. So where are they?

Big companies are big targets, and attract a lot of attention when they step up or step out. A lot of that attention is going to be negative and no one likes the bad kind of attention. You can understand why they would choose to remain silent and let the controversy spin itself out, as it likely will. Add to that lawyers who “contribute” to the public relations strategy by telling their internal clients to “not say anything” as part of their response to public discourse. Remaining silent is a good idea at the police station, but it is terrible public relations strategy.

Without advocacy from the pharmaceutical industry, bad information, bad policy and more sick people will be the result. It does not have to be that way, which is a real shame. I hope that people who are in a position to do so decide to come out on the side of science, advocate for measles and other vaccines and drown out the voices of ignorance that seem to receive a disproportionate amount of attention. I’m looking at you, Mee-Maw.