If you pay attention to US politics, you probably know that President Trump is a huge fan of the tv show Fox & Friends, which is one of the most successful propaganda media outlets in the country.
Now, it has come to light that one of the hosts is actually an anti-vaxxer.
Recently, Fox & Friends ran a segment on this winter's deadly flu season, which has officially been declared the worst since the 2009 swine flu pandemic, killing at least 37 children so far.
For a bit of expertise, Dr. Marc Siegal was invited on the show to discuss revolutionary new ways that Americans can avoid contracting or spreading the flu – like, you know, getting the flu shot.
"The flu shot, which I still say everybody out there should get, is about 30-percent effective, but it actually decreases spread around the household, it decreases severity, and it's very smart to get it," said Siegel.
"Of the children that have died, 80 percent of them in the past hadn't gotten a flu shot."
But things got a little sticky when Siegal asked the three hosts if they had all gotten their flu shot this year.
"No, I have not gotten one," said host Brian Kilmeade.
His co-star Ainsley Earhardt confirmed that Kilmeade refuses to get the flu shot.
"I'm going to try to give Brian one off the air," said Siegel.
"He won't do it," replied Earhardt.
"You have to protect your girls," Siegel told Kilmeade, referring to his young children.
"Right. Alright, but they've got to build up their immunity, too," Kilmeade argued back.
Science help us.
We can't believe we need to say this: Opting out of the flu shot does not boost your immune system. In fact, it does pretty much the exact opposite. Vaccines strengthen your immune system, so if you don't have the shot, you are putting yourself and those around you at much greater risk of contracting the influenza virus.
According to a 2017 study from the CDC, the flu vaccination "can significantly reduce a child's risk of dying from influenza." The study found the flu shot reduces the risk of flu-associated death by 51 percent among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions and by 65 percent among healthy children.
But clearly, fake information has the power to go just as viral as influenza itself.
Kilmeade's unsubstantiated opinion is not only putting his daughters at risk, it is being broadcasted to the 1.6 million-some viewers of Fox & Friends. And, as we all know, hearing these sorts of opinions over and over creates an echo chamber for those who refuse to accept that vaccines are safe and necessary - no matter what doctors say.
Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes - AUTISM. Many such cases!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2014
I am being proven right about massive vaccinations—the doctors lied. Save our children & their future.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2014
The doctors are not lying, but there are plenty of people who are, and it's putting lives at risk. A recent and dangerous fake news story, which claims the flu vaccine is itself causing the flu outbreak, was declared one of the top four stories with the most engagement on Facebook in January. It has been shared upwards of 600 thousand times.
The fact that something so false and so dangerous can spread so quickly is terrifying - especially because it would take less than a minute to fact-check the information.
Vaccines are among the most beneficial health interventions in history, and there is extensive scientific data to support their safety and efficacy.
The CDC website is very clear about this particular issue. It explicity states: "You cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Flu shots are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been 'inactivated' and are therefore not infectious, or b) with no flu vaccine viruses at all."
In fact, the CDC website has paragraphs solely dedicated to debunking common misconceptions and misunderstandings about the flu shot and vaccinations in general.
But something is clearly not getting through to the public. If we don't figure out a way to curb the misinformation and soon, people like Kilmeade will continue to leave themselves and their children unprotected - and our flu seasons will only continue to get worse.