Taking a Shot at Vaccination
by MoJo JoJo on February 24, 2015 - 1:30am
When it comes to our children’s health, we do our best to insure their safety and enhance their protection against disease. This includes following a regular vaccine schedule. A growing anti-vaccine movement, however, has health officials worried that the recent measles outbreak can have a catastrophic impact on society. The media coverage surrounding the outbreak has increased in the past few months as journalists try to highlight its significance. This coverage, nonetheless, varies from one source to another and from one location to another. This variation in information can often be misleading as when a source might omit information to follow a certain political agenda or public opinion. The information takes the form of a specific message that the media tries to convey to influence the masses. In the case of the measles outbreak, various media outlets, for example, were observed to emphasize the vaccine differently.
To begin, the American chapter of The Guardian, the first of the three observed sources, reported that since the beginning of the outbreak, there have been 121 confirmed cases of the measles across the United States with most being linked to a specific Disneyland guest (Gambino, The Guardian). This source confirmed that the eradication of the disease 15 years ago was due, in large part, to the effectiveness of the vaccine. It also clearly mentioned the efficacy of vaccination as a preventative measure.
Other sources’ coverage varied. For instance, the Montreal Gazette’s report stated the latest number of confirmed cases as in the previous source taking into consideration the area of circulation. As of the time of publication, there were 10 cases of the measles in Quebec (Fidelman, Montreal Gazette). The writer, however, was not as thorough when mentioning the effectiveness of vaccinations. The reporter simply mentioned that the Quebec victims’ vaccination statuses were not clear. The journalist also added the disease's death toll world wide to emphasize the severity of the illness.
As for a third source, the Toronto Star reported the same facts as the Montreal Gazette. However, it placed additional emphasis on the fact that all the Quebec victims were not vaccinated.
Interestingly, the location of the publication did influence the report. While the authenticity did not change from one location to another, the differing emphasis on certain facts did. In the case of the latest measles outbreak, most of the sources outside of Quebec had the same opinion about vaccination. The only media outlets that had different opinions were the ones within Quebec. The article from the Gazette did not emphasize enough the efficacy or the research behind the vaccine. This can be explained by a recent poll that paints a clearer picture about Quebecers’ opinions on vaccination. According to the survey, Quebec parents were most skeptical of vaccinations and were most likely to not vaccinate their children. In fact, only 49% of Quebec parents were pro-vaccination (‘Vaccines Widely Accepted by Canadians as Effective, Poll Suggests’). Evidently, public opinion on vaccinations is not very optimistic in Quebec. Hence, news outlets would be more reluctant to emphasize the effectiveness of vaccines.
In conclusion, the location of a source does influence the way information is conveyed. While the quality of the information is usually the same, different locations choose to focus on different factors to convey a specific message or follow a political agenda. Thus, the best way to get the whole story is to consult multiple sources. This allows the consumer to be exposed to different perspectives of the story in order to truly understand the events and make their own conclusions.
Fidelman, Charlie, Montreal Gazette. ‘Lanaudière Officials Identify 10 Cases of Measles (with Video)’. Montreal Gazette (2015): n. pag. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/lanaudiere-officials-identify....
Gambino, Lauren. ‘Measles Outbreak: Infected LinkedIn Commuter Puts Silicon Valley on Alert’. The Guardian 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/12/measles-outbreak-infected....
‘Vaccines Widely Accepted by Canadians as Effective, Poll Suggests’. N.p., 13 Feb. 2015. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/vaccines-widely-accepted-by-canadians-as-e....