Katie Couric Weighs in on the HPV Vaccine Controversy

BlogHer Original Post

Katie Couric just wrapped up a show on the HPV vaccine. The title of the show "The HPV Vaccine Controversy" becomes clear from the show's description on the Katie Show website:

The HPV vaccine is considered a life-saving cancer preventer … but is it a potentially deadly dose for girls? Meet a mom who claims her daughter died after getting the HPV vaccine, and hear all sides of the HPV vaccine controversy.

Plenty of people went to Twitter to get out information about the HPV vaccine, and vaccination in general, and even Forbes dedicated an article to look at mainstream HPV vaccine information rather than the outlying situation Katie highlighted on her show in the case of Emily Tarsell's daughter who she says died after receiving the vaccine.

Forbes author David Kroll stresses that the facts matter "because the HPV vaccines can protect women from cervical cancer, the first human vaccine approach proven to prevent cancer. Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in U.S. women."*   Moreover, Kroll states that the HPV vaccine can help prevent other forms of cancer in women and men.

The Public Library of Science or PLOS also responded to Katie's episode with their own blog post. Seth Mnookin, blogger and author of the book The Panic Virus, was approached by the show last year to discuss vaccines on-air. Though he never made it onto an episode, Mnookin writes of his interactions with the show,

The producer seemed to have a true grasp of the dangers of declining vaccination rates and she stressed repeatedly that her co-workers, including Couric herself, did not view this as an “on the one hand, on the other hand” issue but one in which facts and evidence clearly lined up on one side — the side that overwhelmingly supports the importance and efficacy of vaccines.

Mnookin describes his frustration that the episode "promotes dangerous fear mongering." He refuted the episode's basic premise by quoting some facts, such as research that came out in October proving the safety of the vaccine.

On Twitter, the response from the general public was mixed, with anti-vaccine tweets mixing with pro-vaccine tweets.

This is obviously an important decision, and emotions run high when we talk about our children's health. Do you think the Katie Show should have tackled this topic in this manner?  Has the media done anything to sway your decision to vaccinate one way or the other?

Katie Show

Image Credit: Disney/ABC

* Forbes misquotes NIH's statistics on deaths from cervical cancer. According to NIH, "Worldwide, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among women and the second most frequent cause of cancer-related death, accounting for nearly 300,000 deaths annually. In developing nations, it is often the most common cause of cancer-related death among women and a leading cause of death overall." In other words, cervical cancer is the second most common form of cancer related death worldwide, not the U.S.

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.


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