AAFP Statement: ABC Will Propagate False Information, Contradict Science if First Episode of "Eli Stone" Airs as Written
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
James King, M.D.
American Academy of Family Physicians
As one of the nation’s largest primary care medical specialty organizations representing over 93,000 family physicians, the AAFP adds its voice to those of the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics in expressing deep concern with the misleading medical and scientific content of the upcoming episode of “Eli Stone” scheduled to air on the ABC network. We urge ABC to cancel this episode, as it transmits misinformation about the safety of life-saving vaccines given to infants and children.
Scientific data overwhelmingly show that there is no association between vaccines and autism. The sole study that purported a link between vaccinations and autism was rejected by all major health organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, and the study has since been retracted.
But based on the misinformation of this “Eli Stone” episode, parents may be influenced to forgo life-saving, safe and effective vaccinations for their children due to the show’s false premise that vaccines cause autism. The consequence of media dissemination of erroneous and unscientific information is a decline in childhood immunizations. This occurred in the United Kingdom, where erroneous reports linking the measles vaccine to autism were followed by a decline in vaccination and the worst outbreak of measles in two decades. The ensuing deaths and hospitalizations of several non-immunized children could have been prevented in this instance.
As ABC has decided to air this episode with a preface that deficiently indicates that the “story is fictional and does not portray any actual persons, companies, products or events,” despite the warnings issued by some of this country’s leading medical societies, the network will bear the responsibility of any resulting illnesses and deaths that would otherwise be preventable.
Vaccines are among the safest and most effective means available to keep our children healthy. As such, ABC should consider how irresponsible it is to propagate falsehoods that contradict science and could weaken the decades of efforts by the AAFP and others in the medical and public health community to promote immunizations and protect children.
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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 110,600 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.
Approximately one in four of all office visits are made to family physicians. That is 240 million office visits each year — nearly 87 million more than the next largest medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.
To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.FamilyDoctor.org.