The Daily Mail’s Renewed Assault on Vaccination

[BPSDB]Anybody who thought the Daily Mail was going to rest on its laurels after helping engineer a measles epidemic via the MMR hoax is, unfortunately, mistaken. Take a look at their take on the cervical cancer vaccine.

Doctors found 1,300 of the 700,000 girls who received the cervical cancer vaccine last year experienced adverse reactions

1300 out of 700,000 is pretty low but I suppose “99.8% of girls receiving Cancer Preventing Vaccine Suffer no ill effects” does not make quite so snappy a headline.

More than 1,300 schoolgirls have experienced adverse reactions to the controversial cervical cancer jab.

What exactly is “controversial” about it? Are the Mail hoping that if they keep claiming it is controversial, they will create a controversy?

Doctors have reported that girls aged just 12 and 13 have suffered paralysis, convulsions and sight problems after being given the vaccine.

This is what is known as “confirmation bias” – assuming that if B follows A then A causes B. This is the same thinking that led medieval Europeans to believe that comets foretold disaster because whenever a comet appeared in the sky, something terrible happened soon after.

Dozens were described as having pain ‘in extremity’

Is this an ungrammatical way of saying “in their extremities” or are the Mail trying to imply “in extremis” ie extreme pain? And how many exactly are “dozens”? How many dozens? Four or five? Which means less than sixty out of seven hundred thousand.

…while others suffered from nausea, muscle weakness, fever, dizziness and numbness

How many? One suspects less than “dozens” otherwise the Mail would have let us know. Probably single figures, then.

The vaccine is being given to girls under a Government programme to prevent women from developing cervical cancer

The disease that is killing Jade Goody.

Ministers say it will ultimately save 700 lives a year.

So we have to balance 1300 side effects against 700 deaths every year.

Some have dubbed it the ‘promiscuity jab’ because it is given to girls to protect against the sexually-transmitted HPV virus which causes 70 per cent of cervical tumours.

Well, the Mail has given it this name. It does not follow that because teenagers are protected against a particular sexually transmitted disease, they will be encouraged to have sex. Regrettably, given the incidence of teen pregnancies and teen STD transmission, far too few of them think about consequences at all. If we can protect them from one potentially fatal hazard, it is our duty as parents to do so.

Last night campaigners called for the vaccination campaign to be suspended in the light of the published side-effects.

Which campaigners? Wouldn’t be Jackie Fletcher would it?

[The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)’s] latest analysis found there had been 1,340 reports in total, with 2,891 different adverse effects noted. Most were minor complaints such as rashes, swelling on the injection site, pain or allergic reactions. But there was a range of more worrying problems. Four girls had convulsions, one had a seizure and one had an epileptic fit. There were several cases of paralysis. One had Bell’s palsy, which paralyses the face; one had hemiparesis, which paralyses or severely
weakens half the body; two experienced hypoaesthesia, in which the sufferer loses much of her sense of touch, and one had Guillain-Barré syndrome, which paralyses the legs. There were almost 20 cases of blurred vision…

These are hardly new conditions and a small number of people have always developed them.

… and one girl was reported as developing anorexia.

This is a particularly unpleasant attempt to scare parents. “Anorexia” simply means “loss of appetite” but plainly the perpetrator of this article wishes readers to think of anorexia nervosa, the so called “slimmers’ disease”, which has led to teenage girls starving themselves to death.

Last night Jackie Fletcher…

Looks like I was right.

…of the vaccine support group Jabs said: ‘When they introduced this new vaccine, we had major concerns about its safety…

On what grounds? Other than blanket opposition to vaccination?

…The current statistics detailing adverse reactions – including cases of epilepsy…

Cases? There was one reported case of an epileptic fit. Unfortunately, exaggeration by JABS is nothing new.

… and convulsions – bears out that we were right to be concerned.

Four cases. Out of 700,000. Even if we accept a link, for which there is no evidence.

‘The Government needs to look at the future of this programme given the number of side-effects coming through.’

Over 99.8% report no adverse effect. The vast majority of the remaining claimed reactions are minor and most of ther major ones are temporary. By vaccinating against cervical cancer, the NHS is preventing 700 young women a year dying the way Jade Goody is currently doing.

Given the Mail’s unacknowledged guilt in perpetrating the MMR hoax and now this (which has all the makings of a new scare campaign), isn’t it about time the Editor and publishers of the Daily Mail were prosecuted for endangering public health?

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7 Responses to “The Daily Mail’s Renewed Assault on Vaccination”

  1. Teek Says:

    when an institution is ideologically blinkered, it cannot see just how inane its own rants become. this is a classic example of “OMG TEH VIRUSES R CUMMING TO GET YOO!” scare story, written on the basis of taking mild (which are not very prevalent) to severe (which are exceedingly rare) side effects and lumping them together to produce a seemingly large number. Which in any case, as you point out, is small in comparison to the NINETY-NINE POINT 8 PERCENT of people who suffer absolutely nothing and could benefit from having their life saved as the article itself acknowledges.

    Teh Stoopid, it burns…

  2. jdc325 Says:

    Nice work JQH. ““99.8% of girls receiving Cancer Preventing Vaccine Suffer no ill effects” does not make quite so snappy a headline” just about his the nail on the head, I reckon.

    I’m recommending that people contact the Daily Fail to complain about inaccuracy in their article. Unless they make a (prompt and prominent) correction, I think there is an argument for trying the PCC.

  3. Daily Mail Finds Scientist’s G-Spot « jdc325’s Weblog Says:

    […] blogged about a Daily Mail story on the HPV/cervical cancer vaccine, as did JQH of the Letting Off Steam blog. JQH has now written a letter to the Daily Mail regarding their coverage of the […]

  4. Daily Mail on Vaccination: MMR, HPV, Swine Flu « Stuff And Nonsense Says:

    […] there’s the HPV vaccine: myself and fellow blogger JQH wrote about a Mail article that we considered to be irresponsible. JQH wrote to the editor and […]

  5. Lessons Learned? I Don’t Think So. « Letting Off Steam Says:

    […] scare-mongering. As I pointed out here, the Mail bigged up minor side effects and referred to the vaccine as the ‘promiscuity […]

  6. A Second Year of Steam « Letting Off Steam Says:

    […] HPV vaccine would kill or cripple their daughters – or possibly turn them into sluts. Fisked here. This story prompted me to make a complaint to the PCC but it was […]

  7. What Doctors Don’t Tell You – the Magazine « Letting Off Steam Says:

    […] focused particularly on Gardasil, the HPV vaccine. I went through the pros and cons of this vaccine here and here and don’t propose repeating myself. Sufficient to say that very few serious side […]

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