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Anti-vaccine billboard on I-690 draws criticism from infectious disease expert

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Learn The Risk
The advertisement appears on a digitial billboard along I-690 in Syracuse.

A local infectious disease expert is criticizing a billboard in Syracuse, paid for by an anti-vaccination organization.

The billboard, along I-690 West near Midler Avenue, features a picture of a boy with the words, "My healthy 4 year old died after his routine vaccines.” It’s sponsored by Learn The Risk, a non-profit organization that believes vaccines are not as safe and effective as medical experts say. Messages like this worry Jana Shaw, a physician at the Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse.

“There is no debate,” Shaw said. “The science is solid about the fact that vaccines are safe and are extremely beneficial.”

She said billboards like this prey on families concerned about their children, and not vaccinating can lead to dangerous and deadly illnesses. Shaw took a close look at the claims made by Learn The Risk, and said they don’t really back up their assertions that vaccines are making American’s sick.

“Because when you go to the website and go through the links to citations, there’s something very different in the citations than what they portray on their website,” Shaw said. “They are clearly trying to misinform the public. They should be held accountable.”

Learn The Risk believes vaccines are not safe and effective, and lead to short and long term side effects, even death. According to the organization, this is one of 40 billboards and bus stop boards that reach 40 million people globally.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.