In March, JQH wrote four posts about the Mail’s reporting of the HPV vaccine, and his subesquent complaints to the Mail and the PCC. Link. I wrote about their coverage here. This afternoon, I spotted a link on the Holford Watch miniblog to a new Daily Mail article headlined “How safe is the cervical cancer jab? Five teenagers reveal their alarming stories”.
Here we go, I thought – they are going to provide five anecdotes about side-effects of the vaccine (some of them relatively minor) and claim that these adverse events mean that the vaccine is dangerous and we should be alarmed about it. Possibly to the extent that we should avoid it. I wish I had been wrong, but it was no surprise to find that my prediction was correct and the Fail were scaremongering. Again.
The Fail seem to want to encourage us to take more note of these adverse events than of the estimated seven hundred lives that will be saved by the vaccination program. Let’s take a quick look at these adverse events.
The first anecdote tells of dizziness, exhaustion, and blackouts. Now, as far as I can tell, blackouts aren’t listed as a known side-effect of the vaccine. Exhaustion doesn’t seem to be listed either. Dizziness may occur in about 4% of those vaccinated. Despite the apparent fact that only one of the reported symptoms is listed as a side-effect of the vaccine, the parent decided that “Carly’s symptoms tallied almost exactly with a list of adverse reactions to Gardasil” and the Fail decided to print this assertion.
The second anecdote lists dizziness, blackouts and headaches as symptoms – but points out that doctors “maintain that she has demonstrated ‘no pathological reaction’ to the jab”. The parent claims that if the symptoms are not due to the vaccine it is “one hell of a coincidence”. Coincidences do happen and, given that the experts claim this is the case, I would be loath to dismiss the idea that it was a coincidence without some kind of evidence that it was not. The Fail have no such qualms.
Anecdote three is a complaint of CFS*. The illness began a week after the vaccine was administered and the parent comments “I know I can’t prove the connection, but I’m as certain as I can be [...] It took me a while to make the connection to Cervarix, but once I had it all made sense”. It is hard to see where the certainty comes from, but it does not come from medical experts – the girl’s doctors have not claimed that the vaccine has caused CFS. If the illness began a week after administration and it took a while to make a connection to Cervarix (a connection that no-one else involved in the case has made), why so certain now?
Anecdote four is a complaint of sore throat and numbness in the arm. Doctors have made no connection between the adverse events and vaccination in this case and these side-effects (if they are side-effects of the vaccine) are relatively minor.
Anecdote five involves a girl who now suffers seizures. “Although doctors are at a loss to explain why she has developed what appears to be epilepsy, they are more inclined to believe it is associated with the antidepressant medication she had been taking (with no adverse sideeffects for more than a year) than with the vaccine.”
The Fail also repeat their claim that 1300 of 700,000 girls suffered side-effects due to the vaccine. Firstly, the side-effects reported were mostly minor. Secondly, not all of them could be confidently said to be due to the vaccine. JQH (linked to in my opening para) complained to the Daily Mail about their reporting of these 1300 adverse effects (pointing out, among other things, that of those receiving the vaccine “Over 99.8% reported no adverse symptoms at all”) and he complained also to the PCC. Perhaps the Fail’s writer had this in the back of their mind when referring again to the 1300 reported adverse events, as they report that “Admittedly, that is a tiny proportion of the girls who have upped their protection against a dreadful disease.” [My italics.]
Gardasil side-effects. Gardasil-VAERS-adverse-reactions. [The second link is to Scribd - it might be slow to load.] Links to this Daily Mail story and a more recent one on HPV causing throat cancer are in the comments section.