Monday, December 23, 2013

HPV Vaccine Continues to Draw Negative Attention

HPV has continued to draw negative attention through several media outlets. A video has been making the rounds on Facebook and Katie Couric presented a very slanted view of the vaccine on her talk show. Both incidents increase the fear and mistrust of this important vaccine.

A video from Jenny Thompson of the Health Sciences Institute was widely circulated on Facebook and other platforms stating that Gardasil (an HPV vaccine) is causing deaths in women. The video focuses on the political and moral issues of the HPV vaccine and does not use any sound science., a website dedicated to finding the truth on the Internet released several statements verifying the false origins of the video.

Katie Couric has long been known as a trusted voice in the media, and is perhaps best known for her on-air colonoscopy in 2000 after losing her husband to colon cancer. However, her recent show, “The HPV Vaccine Controversy” followed in the destructive footsteps of Jenny McCarthy. Couric shared the story of a young woman who died 18 days after receiving her final HPV shot, but as Joanne Bamberger writes, “…it created a faux controversy that could put young girls across the country at risk.”

Bamberger further points out that the show kept most of the science about the vaccines’ safety and efficacy on their website. And while Couric’s own daughters have been vaccinated for HPV, by asking the question of whether the vaccine is safe, she validates parents fears and neglects the dangers of parents opting out of vaccines for their children.

Even more disappointing is the news that producers from Couric’s show had all of the facts, yet chose to ignore sound science. Seth Mnookin of MIT had several exchanges with the producers prior to the show on the dangers of declining vaccination rates.  Mnookin points out that more than 25,00 new cancers attributed to HPV occur every year in the United States and that 12,000 of these are cervical cancer in females. He also notes that a study recently found no link to short or long-term health problems in 296,000 girls who received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine.

“So did Couric and her producers downplay the real – and uncontroversial – information about vaccines to boost a fake controversy just to boost ratings? …I can’t help wondering whether that’s exactly what happened, and how many women will pay the price,” Bamberger concludes.

Every year, 14 million new people are infected with HPV. The HPV vaccine is the safest and best method we have to decrease that number. Those with concerns about the vaccine should consult their doctor instead of relying on the media.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Anti-Vaccine Cartoon

Pat Bagley of Cagle Cartoons published the following cartoon about the anti-vaccine movement on November 12th. His image captures the truth about the anti-vaccine movement and the diseases making a comeback because of it.

Monday, December 9, 2013

HPV Fears Circulating

Fears about the HPV vaccine have been circulating on the Internet again, in large part because of an article that was originally published in 2009. The negative publicity that the vaccine has been receiving scares parents and is potentially very harmful to those that go unvaccinated.

In 2009, Dr. Diane Harper, one of the lead scientists that developed the HPV vaccine was invited to speak at the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination. Although the name sounds reputable, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), one of the oldest and best-established anti-vaccine groups, holds the conference. While speaking at the conference, Dr. Harper made some comments about Gardasil (an HPV vaccine) that were misconstrued in an article by Natural News. This original article has re-circulated many times, causing fear in parents.

Dr. Harper clarified her statements and tried to correct the misconceptions. Her recent writings, including a 2012 peer-reviewed article, show that she is very supportive of Cervarix, and her comments at the conference may have been based on the fact that she saw more promise with Cervarix than Gardasil.

In a blog post on the Skeptical Raptor, the author notes:
Dr. Harper is an advocate for the vaccine, and has remained steadfastly in support of the vaccine over the past few years. She has some nuanced concerns about the cost-effectiveness of the vaccine if women have regular screenings for pre-cancerous cells, but she has never said that it was unsafe or ineffective. And many researchers disagree with her reliance on pre-screening, because even pre-cancerous cells may cause significant issues to reproductive health–in other words, preventing even milder forms of HPV-induced diseases add significantly to the overall benefit of the vaccine…Gardasil saves lives, and Dr. Diane Harper says that.

HPV recently made the news in other areas too. Two young women in Wisconsin, who are sisters, have filed a court case claiming the aluminum in the HPV vaccine caused an autoimmune response that led to premature ovarian failure.

Dr. Elizabeth J. Neary of Madison, Wisconsin counters their claim and states: “The aluminum adjuvant used in the vaccine was used in tetanus vaccines as early as the 1930s and continues to be used today. Aluminum is in our water, food (baking powder, cheese) and medications (antacids). The average daily diet contains 20 times the amount of aluminum contained in this one vaccine. “ She continues to warn that if fewer young women get the HPV vaccine, we will definitely see more young women get cervical cancer.

“The vaccine is spectacularly safe and effective. It’s been used in millions and millions of people around the world with essentially no unexpected or unusual, abnormal or serious affects,” Dr. Thomas Broker of Alabama adds. “The fact that it’s two sisters presumably vaccinated at different times, different batches, yet later coming down with the same problem suggests very much it was likely a genetic bases of that disesase.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 57 million people got the HPV vaccine over the last seven years. They further state that the HPV vaccine will prevent some of the nearly 26,000 new cases of cancers caused each year by HPV. Vaccine Watch urges readers to carefully screen Internet material and check sources, not all information on the Internet is accurate. Parents with concerns about the HPV vaccine should speak with their physician or child’s pediatrician.