Daily Mail Articles On Vaccination

October 1, 2009 at 5:01 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Media, Richard Halvorsen) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Following my recent post on the Daily Mail’s vaccine article by Dr Richard Halvorsen that served as my opening gambit as I try my hand at guest blogging over at Lay Science, I thought I’d blog my correspondence with the Daily Mail over their articles on vaccination.

Dear Sir or Madam,
 
I am writing to you to express my concern regarding the Daily Mail’s coverage of vaccines.
 
Here: link, there is an article that (among other things) claims that “campaigners are concerned about the ‘over-vaccination’ of children” which sounds suspiciously like a claim of “immune overload” to me. The World Health Organisation has a page on ‘immune overload’ here: link that Mail journalists might like to consult before writing articles that make reference to ‘immune overload’ claims. I was also concerned that the journalists who wrote the above article chose to quote Dr Richard Halvorsen and the JABS campaign group.
 
Dr Richard Halvorsen and the JABS campaign group were also frequently quoted by the Daily Mail during the MMR scare, a scare which relied on a now discredited and partly-retracted paper by Andrew Wakefield along with unevidenced speculation from anti-vaccine campaigners – and was seemingly driven more by a distrust of the government rather than by the available evidence. Now that Wakefield’s research has been discredited and there is no longer a controversy over MMR being a cause of autism, we are left with a problematic increase in the incidence of measles that has led to a number of people suffering from complications – and has even led to deaths.
 
Dr Halvorsen and JABS also turn up in this piece on the swine flu vaccine: link and the comment from the JABS spokesperson Jackie Fletcher (“The Government would not be anticipating this if they didn’t think there was a connection. What we’ve got is a massive guinea-pig trial.”) brings to mind the conspiracy theories and distrust of government that seemed to characterise the MMR scare.
 
Having apparently solicited quotes from Dr Halvorsen and the JABS organisation on several occasions in the past and been provided with opinions that were at odds with the best available evidence, I am disappointed that the Daily Mail seemingly continues to consider Dr Halvorsen and JABS to be credible sources. The latest coverage, of the case of Natalie Morton, was reminiscent of the articles on MMR and other vaccines that could, I think frankly but fairly, be characterised as scaremongering and irresponsible. Jackie Fletcher’s call to “halt the vaccine programme immediately” must have seemed alarming to readers, and it seemed rather premature to me given that we had not been made aware of the cause of death. We now know that it is most unlikely that the death of Natalie Morton was linked in any way with the HPV vaccination, as she had a tumour that could have killed her at any time. I would also question the wisdom of allowing Dr Halvorsen to use the death of Natalie Morton as an example of the dangers of vaccination in a piece that attempted to cast doubt on the safety and efficacy of vaccines: link.
 
Articles about health matter. When a newspaper prints a story about the dangers of vacccination, its readers will take note. When a newspaper consistently prints stories on the dangers of vaccination then some readers may be inclined to decide not to vaccinate themselves or their children. When the facts do not support the articles printed, and the consequences can include serious complications and even death due to vaccine-preventable diseases then it becomes more serious. I believe that this is not just a matter of public health and safety that could cause serious illness and cost lives, I also believe that there is a moral aspect. Knowing what we do about the evidence regarding the risks and benefits of vaccination, articles that have cast doubt on the efficacy and/or the safety of the hepatitis B, MMR, and HPV vaccines should be disowned by any newspaper that has a functioning moral compass and a respect for human life. Personally, I think the right thing to do would be for the Daily Mail to print in future articles on vaccination a clarifying note that corrects any misinformation, inaccuracies, or distortions that have appeared in the paper regarding vaccines. I also think that the Mail should perhaps reconsider where they source opinions for their articles on vaccination.
 
Yours faithfully,
James Cole
I’ve amended the original urls to read “link”, as they were rather unwieldy. This is the only change I have made.

7 Comments

  1. Twitter Trackbacks for Daily Mail Articles On Vaccination « Stuff And Nonsense [jdc325.wordpress.com] on Topsy.com said,

    […] Daily Mail Articles On Vaccination « Stuff And Nonsense jdc325.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/daily-mail-articles-on-vaccination – view page – cached Following my recent post on the Daily Mail’s vaccine article by Dr Richard Halvorsen that served as my opening gambit as I try my hand at guest blogging over at Lay Science, I thought I’d blog… (Read more)Following my recent post on the Daily Mail’s vaccine article by Dr Richard Halvorsen that served as my opening gambit as I try my hand at guest blogging over at Lay Science, I thought I’d blog my correspondence with the Daily Mail over their articles on vaccination. (Read less) — From the page […]

  2. Karen Woods said,

    Hello bloggers

    I appreciate that you take issue with Dr Halvorsen. But can I point that what he says is based on 6 years study of the relevant medical research for his book The Truth about Vaccines, and over 25 years as a GP. In the interest of science, and fairness, you may want to read his full arguments first. He is one of the few people who has reservations about vaccines that pro-vaccine experts are happy to debate the issue with.

    Kind regards, Karen Woods
    Gibson Square Publishers

  3. jdc325 said,

    Hi Karen,

    Halvorsen was wrong on MMR, and on the facts relating to the Natalie Morton case. In fact, he has been wrong about rather a lot of issues relating to vaccination. While I don’t need to read his book in order to point out his inaccuracies when they appear in newspaper articles, I do intend to familiarise myself with the material in order to write a review of The Truth About Vaccines.

    Thank you for commenting,
    James.

  4. Cybertiger said,

    Who the hell is James Cole? A pillock or what? How do you know Halvorsen is wrong on MMR? The GMC haven’t yet given their verdict on wrongness, one way or the other.

  5. jdc325 said,

    Thank you for your contribution Cybertiger.

    It’s interesting to see that you seem to be under the impression that whether MMR causes autism or not is the issue that the GMC will be ruling on. As far as I am aware, Andrew Wakefield’s case (presumably the one you are referring to) is about professional misconduct in the following areas: declaration of interests; ordering investigations without the requisite paediatric qualifications; failing to disclose how patients were recruited for his study; performing procedures on esearch subjects without proper approval and contrary to the children’s clinical interests; conducting a study on a basis which was not approved by the relevant ethics committee; purchasing blood samples. Nothing about whether MMR causes autism.

  6. Cybertiger said,

    “A pillock or what?”

    A pillock or a prat? I think the above deliberations are pudding proof that James D Cole325 is both … tra la, tro lo …

  7. jdc325 said,

    @Cybertiger:

    Thank you for your insightful and useful comments regarding MMR vaccination and autism.

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