A Facebook post claiming “any vaccine given at any age” can kill a child has been banned for making “unsubstantiated claims” after a young mum complained.
The post, which also claimed doctors would dismiss the death of a child as a result of a jab as ‘Sudden Infant Death Syndrome’ (SIDS), was also ruled to have caused “undue distress.”
Watchdogs launched an investigation into the paid-for post on the social network by the Stop Mandatory Vaccination campaign.
The ad, posted in July, caused “unjustifiable distress” as well as making unsubstantiated claims, according to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
It was found to breach rules regarding harm and offence, misleading advertising, and substantiation and was banned from being used again.
The Facebook post stated: “Parents, not only can any vaccine given at any age kill your child, but if this unthinkable tragedy does occur, doctors will dismiss it as ‘Sudden Infant Death Syndrome’ (SIDS).
“If you are on the fence about vaccinating, read this story and then join our Facebook group to talk with like-minded parents”.
The post also featured an image of a baby with his eyes closed. Text In the image stated “Owen Matthew Stokes (Aug 18, 2017 – Oct 25, 2017).
The mother of a young baby challenged whether the claim “Parents, not only can any vaccine given at any age kill your child” was misleading, and said it was likely to cause “undue distress”.
American campaigner Larry Cook, trading as Stop Mandatory Vaccination, provided a copy of a data and statistics information sheet published by the Health Resources and Services Administration, a federal agency of the U.S. Department of Health.
The document reported the number of claims filed for compensation as a result of alleged injury or death caused by vaccinations and the amount of compensation awarded as part of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Programme.
They said that the document showed that in the US, the Vaccination Injury Compensation Act had paid out over four billion dollars for death and injury because of vaccinations.
Stop Mandatory Vaccination said that parents who raised concerns about vaccinations causing deaths were often dismissed by doctors.
The group said it targeted Facebook users with an interest in parenting because they intended to cause parents some concern before choosing to vaccinate their children.
They said that they wanted parents to make an informed choice before proceeding with a vaccination.
The data report presented by the pressure group showed that between January 1988 and August 2018 a total of 6,122 claims were compensated for injury and death alleged by vaccinations in the US and 11,214 claims were dismissed.
But an ASA spokesman said: “While we acknowledged that those figures showed that a large number of claims had been compensated in relation to alleged injury or death caused by vaccinations, we noted that the report stated that settlement was not an admission of liability and did not determine whether the vaccine had conclusively caused the injury or death.
“Furthermore, we noted that the report was only based on injuries and deaths to children in the US and did not cover the UK, where the data could be different.
“We considered that the evidence did not demonstrate that all vaccinations were capable of causing death to children.
“Because we had not seen sufficient evidence that showed all vaccinations were proven to have the capability of causing death to children, we concluded that the claim ‘not only can any vaccine given at any age kill your child’ had not been substantiated and was misleading.”
He added: “We considered that the image of a baby lying down with its eyes closed accompanied by its date of death suggested that the baby was dead and was likely to be distressing to readers, especially to parents.
“Alongside the image was a definitive claim about the risk of vaccinations, ‘any vaccine given at any age kill your child.’
“We considered that this would be understood to mean that all vaccinations were proven to cause death to children.
“The ad also featured the claim ‘doctors will dismiss it as ‘Sudden Infant Death Syndrome’, which suggested that doctors did not realise that the vaccines were capable of killing children.
“We considered that those claims were likely to cause fear or distress to readers, particularly parents who may be looking for factual information about the risks associated with vaccinations for children.
“Because we had not seen evidence to demonstrate that all vaccinations were capable of causing death in children, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause fear without justifiable reason.
“The ad must not appear again in its current form.
“We told Stop Mandatory Vaccination not to state or imply that all vaccinations could cause death to children unless they held sufficient evidence to demonstrate that.
“We also told them to ensure their marketing communications did not cause unjustifiable fear or distress.”