CNN Spreading Innacurate Info on Cervical Cancer Vaccine
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I can’t decide if this is an example of careless reporting, or of intentional fear-mongering. While there is no solid evidence that Gardasil is dangerous, CNN’s article “ Should parents worry about HPV vaccine?” seems to be written with the aim of confusing the public into believing otherwise:
Gardasil has been the subject of 7,802 “adverse event” reports from the time the Food and Drug Administration approved its use two years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Girls and women have blamed the vaccine for causing ailments from nausea to paralysis — even death. Fifteen deaths were reported to the FDA, and 10 were confirmed, but the CDC says none of the 10 were linked to the vaccine. The CDC says it continues to study the reports of illness.
While the idea that the HPV vaccinations might be unsafe is scary, at this point in CNN’s article I’m most appalled by a major news organization’s apparent lack of interest in conveying any real information to readers about an issue that concerns the safety of women and girls, and that could impact people’s decisions on whether or not to get vaccinated.
Let’s start with the first statement - that 7,802 “adverse event” reports have been filed. The obvious follow-up question that should occur to any reporter is “well, how many of these adverse events have actually been linked to Gardasil?” One might also wonder what the average adverse event report rate is for any vaccine, and if those reports decline after the vaccination is proven to be safe. Readers naturally want to know, after such a sensational headline, well - should we be worried, or are people drawing connections between illnesses and the vaccine where none actually exist?
The article’s second sensational statement, that “[f]ifteen deaths were reported to the FDA,” immediately looses its steam when we realize that none of those deaths have been linked to Gardasil. At this point in my reading, I began to doubt CNN’s motives - they wouldn’t strum-up fear just because it’s good for ratings, would they?
Finally, CNN presents us with the terrifying story of a teenager who developed pancreatitis not long after taking the vaccine. While I am not insensible to how horrifying such a serious illness would be for a young girl and her family, it should be CNN’s responsibility to verify whether or not her fear that it was related to the vaccine could be founded - by researching how many of those incident reports dealt with pancreatitis, for example, or other autoimmune diseases. This type of reporting is important, after all, since it could impact women’s decisions and, consequently, their health.