PBS Frontline: Vaccine War

In April 2010 PBS aired a one-hour Frontline documentary, The Vaccine War, about the vaccine debate in the United States.

Like other mainstream media, PBS polarized the debate, pitting scientists and doctors against parents, ignoring the fact that scientists are also parents, that many pediatricians themselves forgo certain vaccines for their children, and that you can be pro-vaccine and still concerned both about vaccine safety and about the logic of a schedule that includes vaccinating newborns in the first hours of life against a sexually transmitted disease (hepatitis B).

PBS interviewed two pediatricians who articulated evidence-based concerns about the American vaccine schedule, argued parents should be educated not vilified, and contended that the current CDC vaccine schedule contains some flaws. PBS chose not include any footage of either of those interviews in the film.

Here’s an excerpt:

See the film and the commentary at PBS’s website.

Read Seth Mnookin’s response to the film, in which he calls Jennifer Margulis “a total asshole.”

Read Jennifer’s Margulis’s letter to PBS, which led them to change the original broadcast’s inaccurate and misleading narrative.


  1. Wow Jennifer, this is so great! I wish I had this information when I was first having my kids. I remember saying the exact same thing! “But isn’t that a sexually transmitted disease?” I didn’t have the research to back up my gut feeling thought. I love your approach in sharing this information. It is very collaborative.

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