It tells the sad story of a three-year-old girl who died after contracting swine flu. Her father, a doctor, believes that the only reason all young children haven't been vaccinated against flu is that it would be very expensive. The paper also carries a strongly worded editorial on the issue, complaining about a lack of reliable and consistent information coming out of government:
"...Parents can’t understand why last year it was necessary to vaccinate their children, but this year it isn’t. They want to know whether decisions are being driven by medical advice or budget constraints. Above all they want to know the real risk to their families. At the moment, they are not getting nearly enough information from Coalition ministers..."
But assuming the Government does a U-turn and suddenly announces that all under-fives need to be vaccinated, how many Mail-reading parents would be willing to have their child jabbed? After all, it's less than three months since the Mail on Sunday carried this scary headline:
The story also ran in the Mail itself a couple of days later. As Atomic Spin pointed out at the time, the truth was somewhat less apocalyptic. Mr Spin also warned that:
"If even one person decides not to get the jab because of this article, that’s one more potential infection this winter. One more potential flu death."On 25 October last year, the Mail even complained that too many people were being vaccinated against as priority groups were being given the seasonal flu and swine flu vaccines in one jab, with no ability to opt out of having the swine flu element:
"The H1N1 vaccine will be the dominant of three flu strains included in the shot, meaning millions of elderly and vulnerable patients will get it automatically. Yet many people refused to have the swine flu vaccine when it was offered last year because of fears it may cause serious side effects."
It's also worth drawing attention to another piece of Mail doublethink. The splash headline claims that a "paltry £6" is all it would have taken to save the unfortunate girl's life. Of course, this is not at all accurate - the vaccine itself may have cost £6, but administration costs would increase this further and, crucially, she would only have been vaccinated as part of a much larger campaign that would have cost a great deal more. It's interesting to note the Mail's sudden interest in the cost of the jab. It's taking the same line as with various cancer drugs that are not paid for by the NHS because they are too expensive* - "how dare you put a price on the life of a sick child".
But back last summer, that's exactly what the Mail did:
Now I accept that there's a difference between £46 million and £6, but it would be interesting to know at exactly what point the Mail thinks a drug becomes too expensive on the basis of a society-wide cost-benefit analysis, not least because when NICE tries to do the same thing they get crucified by, er, the Daily Mail. And as I said above, the cost of saving Lana Ameen's life would have been much, much higher than the £6 cost of one dose of vaccine.
In conclusion, the Mail thinks that everyone should be given a vaccine that can kill them and that cost shouldn't be an issue but that we shouldn't spend too much on it.
And this is the paper that accuses the Government of not giving out clear and consistent information...