Irresponsible journalism that can cause loss of life

finger-pointingAmanda Marcotte, via Slate said “Marshall was only given a few minutes to state that vaccines are safe and that the side effects mentioned by other guests were probably unrelated to the vaccine. Unfortunately, Couric and her producers allowed these facts to be totally overshadowed by the heartrending tales told by the two mothers.  Despite H assurances that regular Pap smears are no big deal, the truth is that some women can’t or won’t go to the doctor as often as they should, especially in their 20s. Which is why the vaccine is so important: It’s easy, extra protection that will save some of their lives.”  This is what happens when “journalists” lose their reporting skill and play to audience fears.

Matthew Herper, a Forbes Staff writer, said “despite the attempt at balance, I think most viewers will be left with the impression that the vaccine is dangerous and that its benefits don’t outweigh its risks – a conclusion that is not shared by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.”

That’s really a shame because there are way too many women who will hear the dreaded word “cancer” after visiting the doctor because they didn’t get the vaccine based on unsupported facts and fear mongering.


Harper says “By pulling viewers’ heartstrings Couric told moving stories about vaccine risks using live interviews with people who said they had been harmed. Defenses of Gardasil were offered in dry platitudes. There were no interviews with people who suffered from cancer that might have been prevented by the vaccine.”

But deaths – including deaths by seizures or unexplained causes – do occur for all sorts of reasons, without explanation, and just because a death happened 18 days after a vaccine was given, as in the example on Katie’s show, does not mean the vaccine caused it. So far, investigations trying to link Gardasil and Cervarix to serious side effects have come up empty.

A study of 997,000 girls in Nordic countries found no link to autoimmune, neurological, and venous thromboembolic adverse events from the vaccine. A CDC analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2009 also found no link between HPV vaccines and serious side effects. Schaffner says the main side effects he sees are sore arms and fever.


So far, despite the fact that many families do opt not to get the vaccine, Gardasil is performing better than expected. In the seven year period ending in 2010, the prevalence of HPV infection in girls and women fell 56% to 5.1% of the population. Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC, told NBC the reduction was “better than we hoped for.” Let’s hope that can continue.

It all comes down to trust.  Trust of the FDA and big pharma and lets face it if you’re a consumer are you really ready to put your trust in prescription medications when over the last few years we have heard so many conflicting stories about prescription drug effectiveness and safety ?  The head of the FDA needs to go public and tell parents that this vaccine is safe and effective because just one diagnosis of preventable cancer is too much.

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