Wednesday, July 16, 2008

HPV Vaccine: More "Helpful" Health News!

I have blogged before about my annoyance with unhelpful, uninformative, and intentionally over-dramatic health "information."

Well, as my friend Jane recently blogged about, CNN ran a story about the HPV vaccine entitled "Should parents worry about the HPV vaccine?" The only problem with the story? It doesn't give us an answer as to the very important question it poses.

But that's okay. We get it. Vaccines are controversial. And that's good.

Observe, from the article:

"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,"

Eeep. Vaccines are scary.

"but the CDC says none of the 10 were linked to the vaccine."

So, in breaking news, 15 deaths were blamed on the HPV vaccine. But in less exciting news, only 10 deaths were confirmed. And, in even less in exciting news, none of the 10 deaths were linked to the vaccine.

The "scary" health news continues:

Out of 26 million distributed vaccines,

"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."

Oh dear, adverse event! That's scary!

But on the other hand,

"[Merck] said in a statement that an adverse event report 'does not mean that a causal relationship between an event and vaccination has been established -- just that the event occurred after vaccination.'"

Of course the existence of an "adverse event" does not automatically mean that the vaccine caused the adverse event! However, that's less exciting to report. And, that fact, no matter how rational or logical it's presented to parents, will never convince some of them that the vaccine did not cause the adverse event.

So now, after reading this story, do you think parents should worry about the vaccine?

I don't.

But now they are going to.

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