Daily Mail On HPV Vaccine

November 15, 2011 at 5:06 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Media) (, , , , , , )

The Daily Mail have published an article about the HPV vaccine. You won’t be surprised to learn that the tone of the article is scaremongering – with the very real benefits of the vaccine downplayed and a focus on the hypothetical risks.

Vaccination and CFS








I complained:


The article is headlined “Girl, 13, left in ‘waking coma’ and sleeps for 23 hours a day after severe reaction to cervical cancer jabs”. The sub-headings and first two paragraphs reinforce this impression that the girl had a reaction to the HPV jab(s). It then transpires that, contrary to the headline, sub-headings, and the assertions in the first two paragraphs, her paediatric consultant is “investigating potential links with the vaccine”. So the headline, sub-headings, and second paragraph of the article are all inaccurate and misleading.

The girl’s condition is referred to as “a mystery illness” but later identified as CFS (prevalence of which is thought to be around 20 per 100,000 among adolescents – see US study here: http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/publications/surveillance_studies/prevalence_adolescents.html). There is also a prominent quote from non-expert Jackie Fletcher who makes the unsupported assertion that chronic fatigue syndrome is caused by vaccination.

Here are some comments on CFS and vaccination:
Appel, Chapman and Shoenfeld seem to think it is at least plausible that vaccination could be linked to CFS and call for further research, but state that: “Little is known about this issue. There are some reports on CFS occurring after vaccination, but few prospective and retrospective studies failed to find such an association” and point out that a working group of the Canadian Laboratory Center for Disease Control (LCDC) that was founded in order to examine the suspected association between CFS and vaccinations concluded that there is no evidence that relates CFS to vaccination.
A Norwegian study found “no statistically significant association between vaccination against meningococcal disease in teenagers and occurrence of CFS/ME”, and a double-blind, randomized study of the effects of influenza vaccination on the specific antibody response and clinical course of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome found that “no difference could be detected between immunized and placebo CFS patients in immunization side effects”.

The HPV sidebar plays down the seriousness of HPV infection: “most forms are harmless”; “Only 5-10 per cent of women infected with the virus face the risk of the disease developing into cervical cancer”; “This process usually takes 15–20 years”.

The section on “controversy” smuggles in a Daily Mail viewpoint attributed to ‘critics’: “Some critics also believe that the HPV injection can give teenagers a false sense of security, encouraging them to be more sexually active because they no longer have to fear cervical cancer.” Is there any evidence for this belief or is it simply an invention of the Daily Mail?

As well as the examples of misleading and inaccurate comments above, there is clearly a distorted picture of HPV and vaccination given by the piece as a whole. I therefore wish to complain on the grounds that the article is inaccurate, misleading, and distorted.


  1. jdc325 said,

  2. Peebs said,

    It never ceases to astound me that people take Daily? Mail medical articles seriously. The only pieces I’ve seen recently which had any degree of accuracy were First Aid pamphlets given out as free gifts. And they were produced by St John’s.

    In fairness to the paper I don’t think it’s entirely responsible for the moral outrage. The Deep South are way ahead on that one.

  3. John Ward said,

    Good for you. Paul Dacre’s excuse is that he is mad, but the rest of them are cynics of the worst kind.
    Sadly, sometimes the news from abroad plays right into the Dacre Mail’s hands….

  4. mikey said,

    *despair* but how can they…..I mean……it’s not as if it’s the first time……keeps happening……..as if there is an explicit intention to misrepresent and subvert at every opportunity……..gah!

  5. Sim-O said,

    who did you complain to? Just the Mail or PCC too?

  6. jdc325 said,

    Straight to the PCC Sim-O. The only time the Mail have ever communicated with me is after being notified of a PCC complaint. So I don’t bother contacting the Mail now – I go straight to a PCC complaint.

  7. deetee said,

    Well done jdc. Keep us informed about the outcome.

  8. deetee said,

    The sheer idiocy of the Torygraph journo’s response is mind-numbing.

    Stephen Adams: “The article clearly states that it is the parents’ belief that the jab has produced an adverse reaction in their daughter.”

    So, Stephen, when I ring you up and say it is my *belief* that my child caught chickenpox from touching a copy of the Daily Telegraph you will no doubt publish the story?

  9. Daily Mail On HPV Vaccine « Stuff And Nonsense | Vaxfax monitor | Scoop.it said,

    […] Daily Mail On HPV Vaccine « Stuff And Nonsense The article is headlined “Girl, 13, left in 'waking coma' and sleeps for 23 hours a day after severe reaction to cervical cancer jabs”. The sub-headings and first two paragraphs reinforce this impression that the girl had a reaction … Source: jdc325.wordpress.com […]

  10. Cybertiger said,


    “So, Stephen, when I ring you up and say it is my *belief* that my child caught chickenpox from touching a copy of the Daily Telegraph you will no doubt publish the story?”

    This sort of pathetic drivel is rightly the province of the forensic psychologist/psychiatrist: a bit worrying when writer is a GMC registered quack from Blackpool.

  11. Daily Mail, Sun, Telegraph’s irresponsible HPV vaccine articles | Luke Scientiæ said,

    […] Daily Mail on HPV Vaccine […]

  12. Luke Scientiae said,

    The articles presume to comment on medical and scientific matters when its authors betray fundamental principles of logic and ethics:

    – it is not sound or moral to base conclusions (or even insinuations) on anecdotal evidence
    – it is not sound to conclude that merely because adverse symptoms developed after a jab, that the jab caused the adverse symptoms (the “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy – a basic failure of thinking), least of all on the basis of anecodatal evidnence.

    That The Mail, Telegraph and Sun continue to pay commentators to produce this immoral garbage tells you all you need to know about their commitment to honest reporting, or even the welfare of fellow human beings. And they do it time and again.

  13. Cybertiger said,

    The following article by Jeanne Lenzer – who writes for the BMJ – may just prick jdc253’s pompous bubble …


    … but I doubt it.

  14. josephinejones said,

    Sense about Science have published a ‘For the Record’ piece on their site (here: http://www.senseaboutscience.org/for_the_record.php/77/quotcervical-cancer-vaccine-has-left-our-daughter-in-waking-comaquot):

    “Cervical cancer vaccine has left our daughter in waking coma”

    The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Metro, 15 November 2011.

    The articles are based purely on the parents’ tentative suggestion.Their teenage daughter has been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and the symptoms started several weeks after she received the HPV vaccine. The parents are reported to be urging other parents to “get all the facts.”

    Raj Naik, Consultant Gynaecological Oncologist and Clinical Lead of the Northern Gynaecological Oncology Centre in Gateshead, UK, responds:

    “No, there is no evidence to suggest this and the article’s claims are unsubstantiated. Adolescent girls are the group most often affected by chronic fatigue syndrome; adolescent girls are the group to whom the vaccine (Cervarix) is administered. The facts about the vaccine are widely available and well documented. The HPV vaccination programme in the UK is likely to save hundreds of women’s lives each year, who would otherwise have died of cervical cancer. A study published in the British Journal of Cancer forecasts that if 80% of 12-13 year olds are vaccinated there will be a 63% reduction in invasive cancer.”

    J Cuzick, A Castanon and P Sasieni 2010 Predicted impact of vaccination against human papillomavirus 16/18 on cancer incidence and cervical abnormalities in women aged 20-29 in the UK. British Journal of Cancer 102:933-939. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6605528

    Document type: For The Record

    Published: 17 November 2011″

  15. deetee said,


    I believe Brian Deer also writes for the BMJ.

    ….so his stuff has to be true then, I guess.

  16. Cybertiger said,

    @the Blackpool quack who quacked,

    “I believe Brian Deer also writes for the BMJ.….so his stuff has to be true then, I guess.”

    You mean there might be doubt over the truth according to Deer? Surely not!

    PS. A psychologist would have such fun with you and your quacking.

  17. Neuroskeptic said,

    Cybertiger – the Lenzer article doesn’t mention CFS. So why did you link it?

    Is your brain really so simplistic that when discussing a certain thing, all arguments to the effect that “it’s bad” are equivalent?

    The question’s not whether it works, it’s whether it causes CFS with someone sleeping for 23 hours a day (which doesn’t sound much like most cases of CFS anyway actually.)

  18. PCC Upholds Daily Mail’s Right To Distort « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] Personally, I think the PCC needs such assistance. I have a pending complaint over the recent Daily Mail article on the HPV vaccine. I don’t expect a satisfactory outcome. GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); […]

  19. Hitler and Vaccines « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] For some reason, this video reminded me of the mainstream media’s vaccine scare stories. In particular, the articles I wrote about in the following posts: dangerous nonsense in the Sunday Express; Daily Mail on HPV vaccine. […]

  20. Josh said,

    Hi, great post. Please email me, I also went to the PCC over this case and would like to liase with you on how to continue. Some progress, it would be useful to compare notes!

  21. PCC Judgement On Daily Mail HPV Article « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] in November last year, I complained about a Daily Mail article on the HPV vaccine. Another individual also complained (about the Mail and other newspapers) and the PCC decided that […]

  22. Daily Mail Science Correspondent on Vaccination « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] Rachel Porter, Paul Sims, and the anonymous (and ubiquitous) Daily Mail Reporter. (See here, here, here, and here for my thoughts on those articles.) The journalist in question is Fiona MacRae. The […]

  23. Autism Candles said,

    Reblogged this on Autism Candles Blog.

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