BBC retracts vaccination illness story - iMediaEthics

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The BBC published a story in June about a woman who claimed she was ill because she didn’t get vaccines as a child. But, two months later, the BBC retracted the story.

The article from June 19 was headlined, “My mum didn’t vaccinate me — this is what happened next.” Its link now goes to an error page. iMediaEthics viewed the story through a Google cache.

The story reported that the woman, using a pseudonym, did’t get vaccinated as a child because her “mother was suspicious about vaccines,” but as an adult, she said she “started coming down with some frightening illnesses.” The first person story says the woman ended up getting tetanus at 36 and whooping cough.

The BBC said it retracted the story because it found out that despite Meredith’s claims, she wasn’t actually ever treated for tetanus. She was hospitalized for suspected tetanus but wasn’t diagnosed with tetanus.

iMediaEthics has written to the BBC to ask how it learned the woman never had tetanus, why it retracted the whole article, if there were doubts about other claims, and why they granted anonymity. The BBC told iMediaEthics, “This story was part of the BBC’s vaccination season and has been removed as an inaccuracy was identified. Other content from the season is still available online.”

In an Aug. 21 correction note, the BBC disclosed its retraction. The note reads:

“In a story of one woman’s experience with vaccinations, we interviewed ‘Meredith’ who believed that the frightening illnesses she was experiencing as an adult were the result of her mother deciding not to get her vaccinated as a child.

When further investigations revealed that Meredith had not been treated for tetanus in hospital in Queensland, we decided to withdraw the story from the website. In fact Meredith was hospitalised with suspected tetanus, but doctors later identified a different infection.

UPDATED 1:22 PM With response from the BBC

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