Believe It Or Not, These Anti-Vax Ads Were Published By Two Local Papers

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned the ads from ever appearing again.
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Two local papers have found themselves in hot water with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after running anti-vax ads during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rotherham Advertiser and the digital version of The Argus both ran adverts placed by a reader named Stacey Bradley.

Both versions of the ad prominently displayed the words “national emergency” and “the truth is out” on banners. They also used logos for the Metropolitan police and South Yorkshire Police, along with a fake “crime number”.

The adverts claimed they were looking for people to come forward to report “any Covid-19 injuries or deaths”. It said “related crimes and threats to the public health, gross negligent manslaughter and misconduct in the public office” were being investigated.

“A further 18 offences have also been cited including murder, fraud, GBH and multiple breaches of the Nuremburg Code (sic),” the ad said.

A version of the advert that appeared in print.
A version of the advert that appeared in print.

Scientists around the world have agreed that any small risks or side effects associated with the vaccines are far outweighed by the benefits.

“Billions of people have been safely vaccinated against Covid-19. All of the approved Covid-19 vaccines have been carefully tested and continue to be monitored,” the World Health Organisation says.

“Like all vaccines, Covid-19 vaccines go through a rigorous, multi-stage testing process, including large clinical trials that involve tens of thousands of people. These trials are specifically designed to identify any safety concerns.”

England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty previously said people spreading misinformation about vaccines should be “ashamed”.

“There are also people who go around trying to discourage other people from taking a vaccine, which could be life-saving or prevent them from having life-changing injuries to themselves,” he said during a press conference in September.

“Many of those people, I regret to say, I think know that they are peddling untruths, but they still do it. In my view, they should be ashamed.”

The ASA has banned these adverts from appearing again

A version of the advert that appeared online.
A version of the advert that appeared online.

The ASA received six complaints about the adverts and ruled that they were “unduly alarming and caused fear of Covid-19 vaccines without justifiable reason”.

The watchdog said the references to “threats to the public health, gross negligent manslaughter”, “murder” and “GBH” implied vaccines are unsafe. It also called the ads “misleading” for using police logos and crime numbers.

In response to the ASA’s ruling, Stacey Bradley acknowledged the complaint and provided a link to an article in a local newspaper reporting that an individual had died after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

The Rotherham Advertiser, who published the print version of the advert, told the ASA that they would not run the ad or similar ads in future and that they’d assured each police force that they would not publish any ads that featured their logos without permission.

However, the local paper did dispute the claim the ad was “misleading”, given that some people experienced adverse reactions to vaccines. They also believed that the ad’s publication was consistent with their newspaper’s commitment to offering a balanced view on current issues and said they did not believe the ad was “harmful or irresponsible”.

The Argus, which published a digital version of the advert, did not respond to the ASA’s request for comment. HuffPost UK has also contacted the paper and will update the article if we receive a response.