Between 5% and 20% of Americans come down with the flu each year, but none of them were pictured in the most talked about stock image of 2016.
Earlier this month, NBC Nightly News reported on the status of this year’s influenza virus, using what appeared to be an innocuous stock photo of a man blowing his nose. The man in the picture, however, wasn’t a stock image model at all, but rather former leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party Ed Miliband.
The virtually unheard-of foreign politician would have, in fact, been Britain’s Prime Minister had the Labour Party not been defeated by David Cameron’s Conservative party in 2015. Yet, there he was on the U.S. nightly news, anonymously highlighting the dangers of influenza.
Miliband didn’t seem bothered that his photo was used without his permission. Instead, he announced on Twitter that he was “Proud of the new role in international health promotion. When America sneezes…”
This wasn’t the first time Miliband’s image was accidentally used by an American news outlet. Back in October, an alt-right website published a picture of a crowd of people and circled one man’s face in the middle of the pack, claiming that he was a hitman who helped Hillary Clinton have numerous sexual exploits with men and women. That man just happened to be Ed Miliband.
Even before that preposterous — and likely accidental — accusation, Miliband already had his own viral meme floating around the Internet. It was a highly unflattering photo of the lawmaker eating a bacon sandwich.
Ed Miliband has had his fair share of embarrassing public mix-ups over the past couple years. Fortunately, his most recent accidental appearance on the nightly news was for a good cause, encouraging Americans to get the flu vaccine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 45% of the U.S. population got vaccinated in 2015 despite the fact that the flu is so highly contagious. In fact, infected individuals can spread the virus to others up to six feet away. Fortunately, researchers have found that computerized physician reminders have increased the use of flu and pneumococcal vaccinations from virtually 0% to 35% and 50%, respectively for patients in hospitals.
“Flu is serious. Flu is unpredictable,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC. “Flu often does not get enough respect.”
No respect? Perhaps the flu and Ed Miliband have something in common other than their brief appearance on NBC Nightly News.