One of the funniest things I’ve ever read – and I’ve referred to this before, so forgive me – is this item that ran in the New York Times:
“Correction: December 3, 2008 An article last Wednesday about Gael Greene’s dismissal as a restaurant critic for New York magazine misidentified the news service she was reporting for when she had an affair with Elvis Presley in 1956. It was United Press, not United Press International, which was formed in 1958 when United Press merged with the International News Service.”
Perhaps my own journalism background, which included a stint at UPI, adds to my amusement here. But I mean, who really cares what United Press was called in 1956, before it merged with the International News Service in 1958, to form United Press International, when it’s part of the same paragraph that tells you a prominent (recently fired) New York restaurant critic somehow ended up having an affair with Elvis Presley half a century ago. Now that’s a merger worth hearing about!
It is in that spirit that I bring you news that the Gray Lady has goofed again. Basically, in its latest paean to vaccination, an article last week on the rising cost of vaccines, it managed to get things so wrong as to raise concerns about its fundamental understanding of the subject. And as you know, we are the ones the Times believes are irredeemably erroneous.
I sent the Times this e-mail last week:
this statement is flatly wrong:
“For most prescription medicines, the crucial hurdle to marketing is to win Food and Drug Administration approval. But for vaccines, the prize is the imprimatur of the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Once a shot is on the committee’s schedule as mandatory, every child has to get it before entering school and insurers have to cover it, at least nominally. (Many states require home-schooled children to be vaccinated as well.) ‘We have to give it to every kid, so it’s a golden ticket,’ Dr. Irvin said.”
(My e-mail continued:) In fact, the ACIP recommends childhood vaccines to the CDC, which uses that input to determine the childhood immunization schedule. that schedule is not a mandate. states consult it in adopting school entry requirements, which often do NOT include all vaccines on the CDC's schedule. also, "many" states do not require home-schooled children to be vaccinated, as i understand it -- only virginia and north carolina do so. regarding the first point, contrast it with this statement by the pro-vaccine Shot of Prevention website:
“There are no federal vaccination laws. However, just as the government requires immunizations for those who volunteer to join the military, and health providers may require employees to be vaccinated in a medical setting, immunization requirements for public school enrollment are determined by individual states. Parents are not forced to vaccinate their children. Rather, they’re given a choice as to whether they want their children to attend public school and therefore be vaccinated according to state admission policies.”
(my e-mail ends here)
On Tuesday, the Times printed this correction: