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The Katie Couric “apology” about her segment on HPV and HPV vaccines

Vaccines against the human papilloma virus (HPV), such as Gardasil and Cervarix, seem to have a strange power over people who are otherwise reasonable about science and vaccines. For some reason, HPV vaccines seem to have an uncanny ability to turn such people into raging antivaccinationists almost as loony as the merry band of antivaccine loons over at Age of Autism. At the very least, they seem to make seemingly reasonable people susceptible to blandishments and tropes for which they’d normally otherwise never fall. Truly, Gardasil and Cervarix seem to be vaccines that make reasonable people lose their minds. I tend to think it’s about the sex. After all, HPV is largely a sexually-transmitted virus, hence the tendency for fundamentalist Christians to find it particularly objectionable.

Whatever the reason for the outsized negative reaction to Gardasil and Cervarix (and I really do think it’s all about the sex, given the prudery of American society), antivaccinationists are aware of it. Indeed, they nurture it and take advantage of the undeservedly bad reputation that HPV vaccines have. Sometimes they are able to take advantage of it in a spectacular way, as they did last week. That’s when a board member of the antivaccine Canary Party and the founder of a website so full of antivaccine pseudoscience, quackery, and pure misinformation appeared on the Katie Couric’s daytime talk show. Even better for the antivaccine movement (but much worse for the reason-based community), these bits of background were not revealed. What Couric showed her viewers were two mothers, one of whom thinks that Gardasil killed her daughter, the other of whom thought that Gardasil made her daughter ill. Against this sympathetic portrayal, no pediatrician could stand, although Dr. Mallika Marshall valiantly tried at the end.

What was particularly gratifying was how rapid and negative the reaction of the blogosphere was to the episode. Sure, a few antivaccine and quack sites praised Katie for telling the “truth,” but virtually all other reaction from mainstream sources, science bloggers (including yours truly), and news publications was relentlessly negative, with one even going so far as to refer to Couric as the “new Jenny McCarthy.” That was an obvious shot, but not entirely undeserved. After all, it takes talent and hard work to take a reputation for supporting science-based medicine built up over years of promoting colon cancer awareness and destroy it in a single 25 minute segment on a daytime television show.

It’s gratifying to see that Couric and her producers are feeling the heat. It’s obvious from a rather blatant notpology that Couric posted on that wretched hive of scum and antivaccine quackery, The Huffington Post, which she entitled Furthering the Conversation on the HPV Vaccine. I suppose that’s what Couric managed to do, but so minimally as to be virtually pointless. Basically, what Couric does is whine, justify, and (sort of) partially apologize for screwing up so royally:

Last week we devoted several segments on my TV talk show to the issues surrounding the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine. Learning about this relatively recent preventive measure is tremendously important, and I felt it was a subject well worth exploring. Following the show, and in fact before it even aired, there was criticism that the program was too anti-vaccine and anti-science, and in retrospect, some of that criticism was valid. We simply spent too much time on the serious adverse events that have been reported in very rare cases following the vaccine. More emphasis should have been given to the safety and efficacy of the HPV vaccines. As someone who has spent the last 15 years relaying important medical information with the goal of improving public health, it is critical to me that people know the facts.

You know, given all of Couric’s good work, I bent over backward to give her the benefit of the doubt the first time around, but it was hard, given the sheer level of misinformation and false balance in her HPV segment. After this notpology, I’m having an even harder time. “Some of that criticism was valid”? All of that criticism was valid. OK, I understand. This is about as close to an apology as one can expect after a segment as bad as the HPV segment on Couric’s show.

If that were all Couric said, I could accept it for what it is, particularly given how Couric followed it up with a discussion of how the rate of HPV infection has fallen markedly since the introduction of Gardasil and how significant adverse reactions to Gardasil are rare. All of this is true, but then Couric had to come back and try to justify why she had two antivaccine activists on her show to tell stories that blame Gardasil for death and illness when there is no evidence that Gardasil caused either in either girl:

As a journalist, I felt that we couldn’t simply ignore these reports. That’s why we had two mothers on the show who reported adverse reactions after their daughters had been vaccinated for HPV. One could hardly get out of bed for three years, and the other tragically died. There is no definitive proof that these two situations were related to the vaccine. Every life is important. However, the time spent telling these stories was disproportionate to the statistical risk attendant to the vaccines and greater perspective is needed.

I might not be a journalist, but as a scientist and physician I can tell Couric that she was wrong. Not only is there no “definitive proof” that either of these reported adverse reactions, death and a strange, poorly described chronic illness, had anything to do with Gardasil, there’s no evidence whatsoever behind only a vague temporal correlation. As much sympathy as I have for a mother who has lost her child, as Emily Tarsell lost her daughter Christina Tarsell, a journalist, as Couric claims to still be, has a responsibility not just to regurgitate her story for to tug at the heartstrings of her audience. A major claim that goes against what we know about Gardasil has been made. It is a journalist’s responsibility to examine not just the story as told by the grieving mother but the evidence supporting whether her story might be correct. Couric and her producers failed epically at this basic task from Journalism 101. Indeed, it was worse than that in that she didn’t even require Tarsell to answer a very basic question about what symptoms her daughter noted before her death, letting her demur by refusing to answer because she has a “case pending.”

Never mind that it’s easy to find all sorts of information about Christina Tarsell’s case all over the Internet, mostly told by Mrs. Tarsell herself. For example, it’s easy to find this particular document: EMILY TARSELL, As the Executrix of the Estate of CHRISTINA TARSELL…. FINDING OF FACTS. Yes, it’s the finding of fact from the Special Master:

On November 20, 2007, Christina saw a doctor for chronic sinus congestion. The doctor detected an irregular pulse rate. Exhibit 4 at 136. An EKG was abnormal, indicating premature atrial contractions and that Christina ’s heart was beating in pairs. Id. at 142.

Approximately one month later, the EKG was repeated. It appears unchanged from the previous one. Id . at 135 and 141. In February 2008, Christina had a transthoracic echocardiogram. It produced normal results. Exhibit 4 at 139.

There are also notations that Christina complained about feeling dizzy and faint. One has to wonder, given this history, whether Christina had an electrical conduction abnormality in her heart. Such abnormalities often have no accompanying detectable abnormality on the echocardiogram, and, although rare, can be a cause of sudden cardiac death in young adults. One also notes that these symptoms occurred several months before the third dose of Gardasil that Mrs. Tarsell blamed for her daughter’s death.

If my readers and I can find that with a brief session on Google, why couldn’t Couric and her producers find it before letting Tarsell falsely blame Gardasil for the death of her daughter on national TV, aided and abetted by Katie Couric. That’s on top of Tarsell’s being one of the founders of SaneVax, a group known for peddling a manual for blaming the death of one’s child on vaccines and peddling pseudoscientific antivaccine fear mongering. More recently, SaneVax published a guide entitled Gardasil HPV: What to Do If You or Your Daughter Suspect Premature Ovarian Failure. It doesn’t matter that convincing evidence supporting a link between premature ovarian failure and Gardasil is basically nonexistent.

Next up, Couric tries to defend herself against charges that Diane Harper, one of the investigators on the original clinical trials that led to FDA approval of Gardasil, spread misinformation:

Another concern expressed was the duration of protection the vaccines offer. An early study showed that they are effective for five years. But more recent research indicates the protection lasts for at least eight years, and potentially well beyond that. The longer the vaccine is available, the more research can be done on its long-term efficacy, and the public will need to be informed.

There is one aspect of the show that I felt was especially critical to communicate to viewers. It is also important for women to have regular Pap smears to detect cell abnormalities that can lead to cervical cancer. There’s been troubling research out of Australia that indicates some women are skipping their Pap tests because they have been vaccinated. That’s a terrible idea. While the vaccine protects against some of the HPV strains that cause cervical cancers, it doesn’t protect against all of them, and regular Pap smears are essential for life-saving diagnoses.

OK, it’s true that vaccination against HPV doesn’t make Pap smears unnecessary. After all, neither HPV vaccine covers all the potential strains of HPV that can cause cervical cancer, only the most common, but Couric’s mentioning it seems like a quick pivot to draw attention away from just how badly Couric screwed up. I’ll give you an idea how bad, courtesy of Dr. Jen Gunter, who picked up on something last week that I should have picked up on as well. Oh, well.

To understand the problem, you have to know that one of the claims that Dr. Diane Harper made was that protection from Gardasil only lasts five years. Let’s take a look:

A paper authored by Harper (and others) from 2009 published in the Lancet specifically shows that the HPV vaccine (Cervarix) is effective for 6.4 years. Yes, Harper participated in and published a study that shows an HPV vaccine (at the time in 2009) was effective for at least 6.4 years. Dr. Harper has written extensively (and very favorably, at least in 2011) on Cervarix. She writes in a 2011 opinion piece (ISRN Obstetrics and Gynecology, Harper and Vierthaler) that Cervarix offers “protection against HPV 16 and 18 lasting at least 9.4 years.”

If Couric were on her show in any journalistic capacity she should have immediately asked, “Why would you say the HPV vaccine only works for 5 years, Dr. Harper, when in your 2009 publication you write, and I quote, Our findings show excellent long-term efficacy, high and sustained immunogenicity, and favourable safety of the HPV 16/18 AS04-adjuvanted vaccine up to 6.4 years. Is your issue specifically with Gardasil?”

However, studies indicate that Gardasil is also effective for longer than 5 years. Data presented last year from two studies expand the proven effectiveness of Gardasil to 8 years. I’m not sure how Harper could be unaware of this data. It’s not exactly brand new in HPV circles.

I’ve actually read Dr. Harper’s article praising Cervarix before. I read it when I last wrote about Dr. Harper before the latest Katie Couric kerfuffle. Back then, I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was her naivete that allowed the antivaccine movement to enlist her statements into the service of their cause. No more. I find it very difficult now not to conclude that Dr. Harper either lied or was so utterly clueless about the scientific literature on HPV and vaccines against the HPV types that cause cancer as to have forfeited any right she previously might have claimed to be considered an expert.

Not only that, but as Jen Gunter points out, Harper’s own work indicates that adverse events with both of the vaccines was the same as placebo. One wonders why Katie Couric, former journalist, wasn’t aware of these little tidbits of information.

No, actually, one doesn’t.

Couric finishes with a self-righteous flourish, writing about how she’s personally experienced the “devastating impact that cancer has on people and their loved ones” and has “been a passionate advocate for cancer research, education, and prevention.” Fair enough, although she does lay it on a bit thick by talking about being co-founder of the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). These are all good things. I hope she continues to do them. However, they do not absolve her of the responsibility for the dangerous misinformation she promoted about vaccines. In one segment, she seriously damaged what has taken many years to build up: Her reputation as a promoter of science-based medicine with respect to cancer. One wonders if she would have aired a similar story if Gardasil protected against an infection that led to colon, rather than cervical, cancer. My guess is that she wouldn’t have.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

123 replies on “The Katie Couric “apology” about her segment on HPV and HPV vaccines”

Couric’s comments are a notpology, as they say. She screwed up in several ways and, instead of admitting it when she was called out for it, tries to excuse her actions then points to her work fighting cancer as a way to deflect criticism.

As someone who has spent the last 15 years relaying important medical information with the goal of improving public health, it is critical to me that people know the facts.

But you didn’t give them the facts.

Does anyone have a link to the Gardasil 8 year protection data? I’m having a little tête-a-tête with the boy wonder about this, and while he’s reduced to bickering over semantics, the best data I could find was seven years.

Thanks,

Becky

I disagree that this is a notpology. In fact, I’d go so far as to say this is about as much of an apology as we could ever expect from a news personality. She makes it exceedingly clear that she focused far too much on individual cases, she points out how she was wrong, she fills her story with the facts which absolutely should have been in her original report, and she even admitted that she was wrong to give those reports so much air time.

Oh, the original report was awful, and I spent more time than I should have on the comment section of that one article in TIME magazine (right until the stupid bitch from AoA started Gish Galloping all over the comments page, at which point I said “fuck it, I have better things to do”). But I think we should accept this apology, and treat Couric’s further reporting the way it deserves to be treated – tentative goodwill.

Does anyone have a link to the Gardasil 8 year protection data?

Immunogenicity to 8.4 years for the bivalent vaccine. Submitted 2010 August 3.

I take it he’s torturing this to fit into the nominal raison d’être for “Autism Investigated.”

You could always toss this at him as well, because, like, failure of a global ban on thimerosal indicates shirking of the White Man’s Burden.

Models predict a substantial reduction in prevalence of specific HPV 16/18 infections, followed by a reduction in cervical abnormalities and a final reduction in ICC, if coverage is high (>70%) and vaccine induced protection lasts for at least 10 years [4].

Make him say that the vaccine “might be OK” for the women he remembers from the backs of his parents’ collection of old copies of National Geographic. Please.

^ I meant to note that Antaeus has already made the point that even a limited window of effectiveness can be significant.

IIRC, Gardasil vaccine manufacturing is quite similar to the rDNA Hepatitis B vaccine manufacturer.

The rDNA Hepatitis B vaccine in use now for ~ 40 years, which has immunized hundreds of millions of infants, children and adults provides immunity which is lifelong (or at least 40 years 🙂 )

Again, this time with less swearing.

I disagree that this is a notpology. In fact, I’d go so far as to say this is about as much of an apology as we could ever expect from a news personality. She makes it exceedingly clear that she focused far too much on individual cases, she points out how she was wrong, she fills her story with the facts which absolutely should have been in her original report, and she even admitted that she was wrong to give those reports so much air time.

Oh, the original report was awful, and I spent more time than I should have on the comment section of that one article in TIME magazine refuting antivaccers (right until a PR drone from AoA started Gish Galloping all over the comments page, at which point I said “I have better things to do”). But I think we should accept this apology, and treat Couric’s further reporting the way it deserves to be treated – tentative goodwill. And hopefully she’ll do us a favor and stay away from vaccines for a while.

What is with the “waning immunity” trope anyhow? We now know that only 1 or 2 doses of the vaccine can stimulate adequate immunity, and even were immunity to fade after 10 or 15 years, then…..
…Just give a booster shot!

@Becca

Does anyone have a link to the Gardasil 8 year protection data? I’m having a little tête-a-tête with the boy wonder about this, and while he’s reduced to bickering over semantics, the best data I could find was seven years.

With every year that passes we are likely to see additional data. So it will got from 9 years to 10, then 11 etc.
The immune responses in the FUTURES and PATRICIA studies did not wane after 5 yrs and 6.4 years – they were quite stable and at protective levels (10 fold and 16 fold) at the end of both analyses – even Diane Harper published data corroborating this.
http://www.discoverymedicine.com/Diane-M-Harper/files/2010/07/discovery_medicine_harper_no50_figure_1.jpg.jhtml?id=2|attachment_8

At least the, “just because it prevents precancerous changes doesn’t mean it prevents cancer” trope seems to be fading away, now we know that it prevents CIN-3, the immediate precursor to cervical cancer.

I think this vaccine is a brilliant application of science and a public health triumph, and I will continue to trumpet this from the rooftops to anyone who will listen, and especially to those who will not.

@Budget Player Cadet:

It remains a notpology so long as she’s apologizing solely to the people who took offence. This is posted to HuffPo, which is hardly the same audience that she lied to on her TV show. If she opens a show saying “Look, we weren’t exactly clear about the risks in the vaccines, so here’s some science,” then maybe I’d consider that an apology.

Basically, she needs to address the ‘damaged parties’ directly, rather than burying a half-hearted retraction on HuffPo’s back pages.

Amen @Richard Murray. The dialogue itself is about as much of an apology as we can expect, and most of it is ok (most). But why isn’t it on her show?!?

However, the time spent telling these stories was disproportionate to the statistical risk attendant to the vaccines

I’m sure some intern could be tasked to recut it proportionately.

@Richard Murray and AnObservingParty

Exactly. That was probably my biggest criticism of her post, that it was on HuffPo, rather than on her show. Different audiences. Granted, even if she were to do another segment on her show correcting all of the misinformation from the original episode, the damage is still done. There is still this stinking mess out there to be passed around and around and around by anti-vaxers to help scare people away from the vaccine. The best thing they could do, from a public health POV, would be to completely remove the video online (though I’m sure enterprising, forward-thinking AVers will already have downloaded a copy to use later).

Huge journalism fail. Broke journalistic ethics in the first place and only slightly made up for it with the notpology.

@Richard: Fair point.

Also, on a side note, I encountered a fair bit of “Has the HPV vaccine ever been proven to prevent cancer” crap on that TIME article’s comments. Honestly, at that point, Antivaccers just make themselves look dumb even to the most oblivious observer. If your argument against the vaccine is “it hasn’t prevented cancer yet”, but you acknowledge that it prevents a disease which causes cancer, and that we wouldn’t expect to see cancer yet given the length of time before it generally shows up, then it doesn’t take a genius to notice how dumb you sound.

I agree that Couric needs to make this apology to the same audience that was misled about the HPV vaccine – on TV.

“I might not be a journalist, but as a scientist and physician I can tell Couric that she was wrong.”

I am an (ex-) journalist and physician, and I can tell her the same thing. It is also wrong for her to continue to focus only on the vaccine’s role in preventing cancer. It also will save millions of women from invasive, painful and potentially fertility-altering procedures aimed at eradicating vaccine-preventable precancers (dysplasias).

Couric went for the ratings, now she’s got the fallout. She’s only partially dealt with it. It remains to be seen whether she’ll surrender to this temptation again.

To be “fair and balanced” -why didn’t she have parents of women who died from cervical cancer? Or are currently suffering?
I’m sure if there was a vaccine to prevent colon cancer – her guests would be much different
Hmm, I think this really makes me mad

Don’t bother with Jacob Crosby, MPH. He won’t listen to reason. He won’t listen to his masters. In Crosby’s Labyrinth, he and he only is correct. All others are heretics, paid pharma shills, and “mouthpieces” of a vast conspiracy.

@ Rebecca Fisher:

Great work at Jake’s! You and Larry call out his distortion which illustrates succinctly how he purveys information while he mimes both science and journalism.

Interestingly, he alllows dissent- which I suppose he is forced to, as his blog exists because of censorship of his comments at AoA. I wonder if he censors other critical comments.Has anyone else tried?

Wouldn’t it be fun if more SB folk appeared over there? Not that I believe that anyone could unfreeze his paralysed stance on vaccines, conspiracies and autism.
I might even show up if I can conjure a disposable e-mail address and another nym. I’ve had lots of fun with Jake already.

“I’m sure if there was a vaccine to prevent colon cancer….”

Now that would have been an excellent line for the paediatrician to have at the ready.

@Ren

Jake still has not responded to me on Twitter when I corrected him about the scientific evidence showing the vaccines last longer than 5 years. He suffers from a severe case of finger-in-ear.

@Todd – he does…and if he has to resort to semantic jumping through hoops to maintain his position, he certainly will.

@ Budget Player Cadet

If your argument against the vaccine is “it hasn’t prevented cancer yet”, but you acknowledge that it prevents a disease which causes cancer […]

A few years back, we had a vocal contrary person spouting these exact lines here at Respectful Insolence
In essence, his/her position wayes we have a chain of events connecting HPV to cancer, but no, we can not assert that using something to block/limit HPV infection will lead to less cancer. After all, it(s just a theory, science has been wrong before, and all that.

Sadly, however dumb that position may sound, casting doubts always left something behind.

Jacob Crosby, MPH, has not allowed one single comment of mine through on his blog. He has not answered any emails of mine in the last two years. I’ve been asking him to give specific examples of how I’ve threathened him with physical violence since that was the gist of his email to half of the leadership at the health department where I worked, begging them to fire me. Like so many of the anti-vaccine crowd’s responses, the silence is deafening. He is not interested in being wrong. He wants to be praised.

He needs praise and admiration like an epidemiologist needs facts.

Re a vaccine that prevents cancer —
Most of you know that we already have a vaccine that prevents cancer.
From the Hepatitis B Foundation:
Worldwide, chronic infection with hepatitis causes 80% of all primary liver cancers and more than 500,000 people die each year from this lethal cancer. Currently, primary liver cancer has a 5-year survival rate of only 10%.

The good news is that there is an effective vaccine against the hepatitis B. In fact, the hepatitis B vaccine was named the first “anti-cancer vaccine” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because the prevention of chronic hepatitis B infections results in the prevention of primary liver cancer due to hepatitis B

@ Budget Player Cadet

If your argument against the vaccine is “it hasn’t prevented cancer yet”, but you acknowledge that it prevents a disease which causes cancer […]

A few years back, we had a vocal contrary person spouting these exact lines here at Respectful Insolence
In essence, his/her position was that yes we have a chain of events connecting HPV to cancer, but no, we can not assert that using something to block/limit HPV infection will lead to less cancer. After all, it’s just a theory, science has been wrong before, and all that.
A first article from Australia, showing a lesser number of genital warts and pre-cancerous lesions among vaccinated women was still not enough for this person. Nope, still no evidence the vaccine may be useful.

This person was also very upset whenever we dared to talk about unfortunate outcomes of vaccine-preventable illnesses, be it death or sequels or merely loss of income due to staying home nursing sick kids. Because, you understand, it’s just nasty syringe-pushers manipulating your emotions.
Of course, if we are not allowed to say how nasty some virus could be, and how often it happens, that doesn’t leave many arguments in favor of countermeasures…

Sadly, however dumb these positions may sound, casting doubts always left something behind. “Médisez, médisez, il en restera toujours quelque chose”

Because from a scientific point of view, we cannot answer “no” to the question “couldn’t something go wrong?”. At best, we can say “very unlikely”, or “less likely compared to that would likely happen if choosing the alternative/doing nothing”. And it left enough wriggle room for naysayers to exclaim victoriously “See? Even the vaccines pushers think something will go awry”.
The person I’m talking about above was very good at playing Ponce Pilate. Better to do nothing than to risk killing someone by giving her a vaccine. Watching people suffer or die without trying to help them is apparently not a sin.

Who knows? If you insist long enough, maybe Reality will conform to your wishes.

Rebecca Fisher @ #2:

The 8 to 9 year data on Gardasil proper is unpublished but was presented at the 28th International Papilloma Conference last year. The press release is here:

http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/news-releases/studies-demonstrate-gardasil-has-long-duration-of-protection-from-hpv-disease-182323031.html

And the abstracts are here:

http://www.hpv2012pr.org/HPV2012_PUERTO_RICO_Abstracts_Epidemiology_Public_Health.pdf

You can read more about duration of protection in my note here:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/chillin-out-vaxin-relaxin-all-cool/how-long-does-that-hpv-vaccine-really-work/620324728031455

Good luck!

@ Ren:

Just as I thought!
He allows one or two dissenting voices ( including a few form AoA) through so that his policy appears to be ‘open expression’ whilst he blocks our Epi Dude. I think that your characterisatio nof his MO is apropo.

Has anyone else from RI/ SBM tried to comment @ Autism Investigated ( which I abbreviate @ ‘AI’ – for OBVIOUS reasons). I haven’t as yet. There are a few minions I’d really like to see attempt to break through the fog…
altho’ his readership appears to be in agreement with him.

If you do, watch which e-mail you use: he likes to investigate his opponents.

What is with the “waning immunity” trope anyhow? We now know that only 1 or 2 doses of the vaccine can stimulate adequate immunity, and even were immunity to fade after 10 or 15 years, then…..
…Just give a booster shot!

Do you know what’s really ineffective? Food. I tried eating when hungry, but the food only provides protection from the hunger for a few hours!

…yes, I don’t get it either. It’s no big deal to get a shot once a year to reduce my risk of influenza – if I had to get a shot once every fifteen years to reduce my risk of cancer? No-brainer.

he likes to investigate his opponents.

Hm, maybe it’s time for me to use that IP masking service for something other than watching UK-only content on iPlayer… 😉

One of the perennial whines the antivax idiots have is that all anyone is interested in is making $$$ from vaccines, whatever the human cost.

So that would be why researchers and pharma sponsored studies have been conducted to see if only 1 shot or 2 shots of the vaccine may be sufficient, I guess?
😉

I visited Jake’s site.
Under “Science” there was some guff about press releases, and congressional hearings. I got tired searching for any science. Does Jake even understand the concept?
Under “Fraud” I looked for Wakefield. Nada.
What kind of intelligence blackhole is he trying to run?

Couric could perhaps fix this almost properly if she wanted to. Get some experts on. Say how important. Say the words anal cancer, and penile cancer. I would also get some head-and-neck cancer advocates on the show too – likely men, perhaps with electronic gizmo’s to help them speak (we’ve got such at every meeting of our H+N SPORE) – they can leave an impression, and are an inspiration to work harder.

We’ve got this blogger on The Daily Kos who is in desperate need of some respectful insolence.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/12/10/1261733/-Beef-heart-human-diploid-tissue-air-bags-I-tie-it-all-together#c26

I posted a comment (on the bottom) and replied to Ralphdog a physician who needs our support.

Take a look at the dreadful poll…being conducted by the blogger…who is not, of course, anti-vaccine.

As an added incentive…one of the groupies at AoA is declaring victory for the Daily Kos blogger.

Not gonna happen, at least not tomorrow, I’m afraid. I have much bigger fish to fry tomorrow than a clueless sod over at DK. Trust me, you’ll see why when you see tomorrow’s post.

Historically, I think I recall reading that the advent of antibiotics for the effective treatment of STDs also caused and quite an uproar with certain groups!

@ Orac:
Oh boy! I think I know exactly what that fish is! Not to worry, I’ll keep it zipped. It’ll be important enough to make your many loyal minions remark in unison, melodically:”I TOLD you so!”
Not that we’ll enjoy doing so.

At any rate-
Alain, of course I saw both your own and Narad’s comments…
@ dingo 199:
You call it an “intelligence blackhole”, I call it a “sinkhole of unreason”..
*Vive la difference!*

I’m not part of Orac’s inner circle//sigh.

How about some hints about Orac’s next topic (fish), Denice?

I can hardly wait…I just hope that it’s a post on how karma has finally caught up with somebody vile.

(There’s a long list of candidates for that honor, you must admit).

Lilady, I know you sometimes feel “technologically challenged”, but if you try Twitter (it’s not that difficult), you’ll see who is the most likely target. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving person…

I’ve never understood the negative reaction to Gardail. I agree it must be about sex – and seeing cancer as a punishment from God for deviant behaviour. I suspect the reason why there hasn’t been such a negative reaction is for the following reasons:
1. Our religious right isn’t anywhere near as large. They exist, but I suspect the majority of the population simply enjoy laughing at Fred Nile, and get annoyed when other idiots (can’t remember his name and won’t go looking for it) claim the Black Saturday Bushfires that killed 173 people is God’s punishment for thegay. (did not go down well at all, that one)
2. Aussies had a large part in it – we like when Aussies do stuff on that kind of a scale. It’s normally sport, but this was a cool exception.
3. It was never really promoted as about a STD, but about Cancer. I think that difference was crucial.
4. It was free for all females under 25. The idea that we could be free of one particular type of cancer within 100yrs made an impact, and financial sense to the health sector.

I’ve never understood the negative reaction to Gardail. I agree it must be about sex….

I continue to maintain that an effective HPV vaccine is likely perceived, if in some cases only dimly, by the antivax brigade as an existential threat. The possibility of a filthy vaccine that appeals to young women, their imagined next crop of recruits, cannot be easy to contemplate. The overt derangement that occurs when someone suggests allowing minors to consent on their own tends to reinforce this idea for me, despite its often enough being couched in a reversion to political atavism.

I used to see this sort of control fetish at MDC, where juvenile celibacy didn’t seem to have been the norm among the commentariat. Sex? Who cares when the breeding is like voting in Chicago? But you’re not getting vaccinated while you’re living under my roof (or circumcised, for that matter). Now extend it to a mindset that thinks of itself in these terms.

Meg – I am not a sociologist, but I suspect some of the reaction is because give our young daughters a shot to prevent a sexually transmitted disease means we think they’re going to get a sexually transmitted disease. Not only does that mean you think your 11 year old petit fleur will be sleeping around, she’ll be doing it with the sort of guys who also sleep around (otherwise THEY wouldn’t have the disease to transmit, now would they?). And if you raised your 11 year old daughter with THOSE kinds of values, well, what does that say about you as a parent?

I would think the reaction might be different if the recommendation for the immunizations came at, say, age 19.

Of course, don’t get me started on how a vaccination after age 11 causes you to become autistic at around age 2.

I have never understood how some people apparently believe that cervical cancer can be prevented by surgically removing precancerous lesions, but not by preventing those lesions with a vaccine. The mental gymnastics of the True Believer are a miracle to behold.

Unrelated, I’m very much hoping that Orac’s news is not what I suspect it is.

Well, wasn’t there was supposed to have been a sexual revolution about 50 years ago? But I imagine that it’s still difficult for some doting parents to believe that their innocent babies would be interested in (( shudder)) doing THAT- esp when the possibility of gay activities arises.

But wait, aren’t these parents aged 40 years old and up?
Seriously, what were they doing when they were 15 or so?

Perhaps there’s a way for parents to accept vaccines against HPV ( exclusive of avowed anti-vaxxers, of course) by saying that-
– sometimes young people are forced into sexual situations
– they might have a serious relationship ( even marriage) with a person who doesn’t know that he/she is infected.

Being realistic, we’d have to include the fact that teenagers have sexual relations more frequently than parents may realise and that that alone is reason enough to vaccinate
PLUS barrier methods ( condoms etc) don’t always work for HPV.

Yet there are huge obstacles amongst particular groups against being realistic because:
there is often STILL a double standard concerning girls’ sexuality
and boys’ risks may be thought of as being associated with gay sex more than the so-called ‘acceptable’ type ( not true).

I can’t believe that we’re talking this way in 2013.
– sigh-

@meg
The fact that HPV is sexually transmitted is a huge part of the opposition to the vaccine, but it’s not limited to religious people, even people I previously thought were rational refused on the grounds that “my kid won’t be behaving like that” line with regards to that and the HBV vaccine. If only shoving your fingers in your ears and screaming “la la la, I can’t hear you!” were an effective cancer prevention strategy.

@Mephistopheles
In my personal experience, age doesn’t make much of a difference. My family wasn’t happy when I told them I got the vaccine and I was 19.

Denice Walter: I’m just going to have to wait.

I’m probably in the minority here and I do acknowledge how some parents are unrealistic about their kids’ sexual activities…that silver ring thing:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Ring_Thing

I’ve certainly made the rounds of all the blogs, threads, MSM sources and more than 95 percent of the commenters who post supporting Katie Couric are anti-vaxxers.

Who set up Couric to run with this topic? Who was interviewed to claim injuries and a death caused by Gardasil vaccine…and what are their affiliations with crank anti-vaccine organizations?

“I’ve certainly made the rounds of all the blogs, threads, MSM sources and more than 95 percent of the commenters who post supporting Katie Couric are anti-vaxxers.

Who set up Couric to run with this topic? Who was interviewed to claim injuries and a death caused by Gardasil vaccine…and what are their affiliations with crank anti-vaccine organizations?”

Ah, yes… you certainly have been all over the blogs, threads, etc.. about this… In fact, do you have a life outside of posting about vaccines? Also, again, I ask… When does an “anti-vaxxer” become an anti-vaxxer? Specifically, in regards to the hpv vaccine. An anti-vaxxer becomes an anti-vaxxer very often only AFTER their child has a bad reaction / is injured / is permanently damaged. How hard is that to understand? By definition (for the most part), an anti-vaxxer would *never* get an hpv vaccine. Ever. Many of the people who I saw commenting all around the blogosphere were parents, relatives, doctors who had issues with that vaccine. Stop being such a moron. And good one on what crank organizations the posters belong to. Meanwhile, you already admitted to being all over the place AND you belong with this crank site. Pot meet kettle.

Basically its lawyers who get together with their shill doctor and journalists, and place the idea in the media that there is evidence that the vaccine causes damage.

People see these reports and some then say ‘this is what did it to my son/daughter etc”. Then these people are produced by the lawyers, shill doctors and journalists as the evidence of the proposition they made in the first place.

And so it goes on. The lawyers and shill doctors say the parents have spoken. The parents say that the lawyers and shill doctors have told them its true.

Entirely circular and without evidence.

An anti-vaxxer becomes an anti-vaxxer very often only AFTER their child has a bad reaction / is injured / is permanently damaged. How hard is that to understand?

They why are there so many who say “I have never and will never get any of my children vaccinated!” ? People are fed lies to scare them.

Who set up Couric to run with this topic? Who was interviewed to claim injuries and a death caused by Gardasil vaccine…and what are their affiliations with crank anti-vaccine organizations?”

Producers wanting numbers. Also, see Tarsell and SaneVax as discussed above. Big affliation.

By definition (for the most part), an anti-vaxxer would *never* get an hpv vaccine. Ever. Many of the people who I saw commenting all around the blogosphere were parents, relatives, doctors who had issues with that vaccine. Stop being such a moron.

Please, stop. You just contradicted yourself in a matter of two sentences.

And good one on what crank organizations the posters belong to. Meanwhile, you already admitted to being all over the place AND you belong with this crank site. Pot meet kettle.

Being a comments poster on a SCIENCE-BASED MEDICINE SITE is not the same COI as Tarsell, running an anti-vax propaganda site based on nothing but a temporal association, which really wasn’t even that temporal. The difference? Evidence vs. fear-mongering based on nothing.

“When does an “anti-vaxxer” become an anti-vaxxer?”

When he or she exaggerates the risks, minimizes the benefits, denies the science, appeals to authority/popularity/etc instead of demonstrating facts, burns strawmen, and/or continues on a fallacy-filled path to try and win over people to the “do not vaccinate” side.

It would be one thing if the parents of children who had bad reactions were to say, “Hey, my kid had a reaction. Your milage, based on the evidence, will vary, and it is very likely that you won’t have a problem.” Then they would not be anti-vaccine. They’d be concerned parents.

When they go on blogs, radio, television, put out full-page ads, banners, and tell people to go to anti-vaccine sites like NVIC, Whale.to, or Age of Autism instead of going to science-based sites, and when they say that you will undoubtedly have a bad reaction to a vaccine even when all the evidence shows that you will more than likely won’t… That’s when they’re anti-vaccine.

If someone came up to you and guaranteed you a grand prize lottery win no matter what if you just buy ten $2 tickets, would you believe them?

And have you seen the Daschelbot’s activity on line?

“Hey, my kid had a reaction. Your milage, based on the evidence, will vary, and it is very likely that you won’t have a problem.” Then they would not be anti-vaccine. They’d be concerned parents.

Oral polio father did that, and the evidence was there, and he made a difference. I would never consider that man antivax, because he wasn’t.

For example, the mother who stated that her daughter was a guinea pig for gardasil was plain wrong. The vaccine had been tested in thousands and thousands of people before her daughter was given it. Is it sad that her daughter died? Yes. Does she have a right to be angry as hell? Absolutely. But her rights as a grieving mother stop when she says with no degree of uncertainty that the vaccine was experimental, or that it was the definitive cause of her daughter’s death (against all evidence to the contrary and even the VAERS report to which she points us to read), or that your daughter or my sister will have a severe outcome if they get vaccinated.

That irrationality based on a rare occurrence — albeit in a very close, personal situation — “justified” as it may be, is what turns someone into an anti-vaxxer.

@Ren – it is like someone getting into a car accident & then starting a campaign to ban all cars as a result…..

@Lawrence

Yes and no. There are still tens of thousands of deaths and severe injuries from cars the world over.

It’s more like choking on an acorn shoved down your throat by a guy in a squirrel suit at a furry convention and then wanting to burn down oak forests because, screw the oxygen they give us, those damn acorns are downright dangerous.

what turns parents into anti-vaxxers?

A parent may have suspicions about vaccines and medicine in general BUT
there is an entire nether world of anti-science which has been evolving** since the earliest days of vaccination and which has become – as part of the natural health movement-an extremely lucrative big business. Despite what they tell you.

Vaccines involve injecting a substance into a human body- which must invoke a primal fear.

Thus pseudo-science relies upon frightening people away from SBM : it is in direct competition for consumers’ dollars, pounds and euros ( as well as other currencies). This un-discipline makes use of tracts that cast doubt, by using spurious research, testimonies or made-up concepts, upon any vaccine. Anti-vax is a huge part of alt media which believes that the body should be able to heal itself and that pure foods and supplements boost natural immunity making vaccines unnecessary.

For example, today Mike Adams shrieks about NYC requiring flu vaccines for pre-school children. PRN continuously rants against any and all vaccines.- it’s nearly a daily feature. More specifically dedicated websites like AoA and TMR focus upon the evils of vaccination and rail publiicly against any realistic mainstream media coverage. This is the background noise which an uncomfortable parent encounters in contradistinction to SBM.

Parents have a convenient *bete noire* ( SBM) on which to vent their spleen and to blame for their child’s condition and have an enabling support system that supports itself by getting parents involved, selling treatments, supplements, books, legal services, their own expertise and even “safer” vaccines.

Many of these proselytisers constantly bark about how pharma and doctors rake in cash because of vaccines which distracts their angered audeince from asking them-
” And how much do YOU earn?”

** I know, not really the best word choice

Denise – I don’t know about you, but I certainly didn’t engage in behavior likely to transmit HPV at age 15. Not that I didn’t wat to …

@ Mephistopheles:

Maybe that’s not really the best nym for you after all.

More seriously, how many 15 year olds now, as well as in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s etc are sexually active?- note that that term includes many activities beyond the most obvious.

Joyous Times,
Perhaps looking at this a different way might help. The death rate for females at the usual age they are vaccinated with Gardasil is about 20 per 100,000 per year (according to the CDC). This means that if 1 million females were vaccinated with Gardasil during the course of 1 year we would expect to see 200 deaths that had nothing at all to do with Gardasil. The chances of one of these deaths happening within 5 days after vaccination is 200 times 1 in 73 (365/5) i.e. 2.7. So among this sample of a million females, we would expect to see about 3 deaths during the 5 days following vaccination by chance alone. Since severe illnesses are much more common than death in this age group, we would expect to see a lot more severe illnesses shortly after Gardasil again by chance alone.

If a teenage girl is vaccinated with Gardasil and two days later she dies or gets very sick, it is quite understandable that her parents might make a connection between the vaccination and their daughter’s death or illness. This is even more likely given the publicity that has been given to the idea that Gardasil is dangerous, and that is being spread by you and others. However, many of the deaths that have been reported to VAERS were due to accidents, and others show a clear previous history consistent with a congenital heart defect, or a history of taking the oral contraceptive pill, which we know carries a risk of DVT, and other deaths happened weeks or months after Gardasil.

Given this, and the good safety evidence we have from very large clinical trials and global post-marketing surveillance of millions of women given Gardasil, it is almost certain that the reports of deaths after Gardasil are due to chance. That doesn’t mean that parents who report this are stupid, or are cranks, it means they are genuinely mistaken and are understandably looking for some explanation for a tragic event. We should be helping them to understand this, instead of blaming an extremely safe vaccine that has the potential to prevent HPV-related cancers that would otherwise lead to thousands of other parents burying their children prematurely.

So what turns people into anti-antivaxers?

It’s things like seeing antivaxers try to get child abusers off the hook for their crimes by blaming vaccines.

Case in point – today’s story in NaturalNews about a U.K. case where a man was found to have assaulted and killed a baby in his care. If you believe the NN “investigative reporter” it was really the MMR vaccine that caused her massive head trauma and an innocent man was railroaded.

The reality is just a wee bit different.

“Darryl Elliott, 30, of Stapleford, ‘snapped’ whilst looking after Amelia and shook her, resulting in a “very, very sick, very damaged brain”.

“Elliott initially said Amelia fell from the sofa whilst he was out of the room and later said she had slipped and banged her head whilst being lifted from the bath.”

“Prosecuting, Yvonne Coen QC, told the jury at Nottingham Crown Court that Elliott claimed that upon finding Amelia unconscious he had panicked and shook her five or six times in an attempt to revive her and then smacked her on the back but that this account also did not fit the facts.”

“Amelia was initially taken to hospital in Grimsby, then transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where she died.”

http://www.thisislincolnshire.co.uk/Baby-murderer-jailed-minimum-15-years/story-19975468-detail/story.html#axzz2nHCOLZxX

I await Joyous Times or any other antivaxer denouncing such attempts to excuse these crimes on the basis of “vaccine injuries”.
I’ve been waiting a long time already.

Here’s also something to think about:
a rather strait-laced older, person I know well just discovered that she had a lesion related to HPV which had to be removed.

In fact, most people DO contract it at some time in their lives. People over a certain age do not have the opportunity to be vaccinated, younger ones do.

“I don’t know about you, but I certainly didn’t engage in behavior likely to transmit HPV at age 15.”

I think we’re falling into the biological fallacy. If I didn’t do it, or people around me didn’t do it, then not that many people did it or no one did it. The problem with that thinking is that enough kids are doing it at the different age ranges to carry it with them and then transmit it later on. So enough kids are getting infected and passing it around at 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, etc.

Hence the need for a vaccine that 1) is given before all of this happens, 2) whose effectiveness is long enough for all the years that the most promiscuous around us are, you know, promiscuous, and 3) covers most (all, if possible) of the strains likely to have the worst outcomes.

Know what I mean, jellybean?

#69

quite a few in my experience. age of consent in the UK is 16 and this is widely recognised as being…erm…closing the stable door after the horse has already whittled itself a key to the padlock.

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