Contact: Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota / Nancy Hokkanen 952-831-3777
Lives ruined, “Gardasil Girls” abandoned by CDC, manufacturers & media
ST. PAUL, MN – Vaccine consumers were shortchanged yet again by media’s selective reporting of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s HPV vaccine comments from last week’s Tea Party debate. Whatever one’s opinion of Republican Presidential candidate Bachmann, the seriousness of vaccine injury was lost to many journalists’ indulgences in bias, jingoism and ignorance.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune found demagoguery irresistible, inaccurately titling its editorial “Bachmann’s foolish attack on vaccines.” The subhead, “Congresswoman’s fear-mongering put politics over health,” was unintentionally ironic, especially given the Strib’s consistent failure to investigate many readers’ vaccine injuries and legitimate product safety concerns.
In 2006 the HPV vaccine was recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. A few years later the U.S. Centers for Disease Control stated, “As of June 22, 2011… VAERS [the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System] received a total of 18,727 reports of adverse events following Gardasil® vaccination.” A total of 2,799 adverse events were classified as “Serious,” including encephalopathy (brain damage). 98 deaths have been reported.
In 2009 CBS News quoted Dr. Scott Ratner, whose wife is also a physician, saying one of their daughters became severely ill after a shot of Gardasil: “My daughter went from a varsity lacrosse player at Choate to a chronically ill, steroid-dependent patient with autoimmune myofasciitis.”
Girls injured by HPV vaccines have little recourse – medical treatments are few and vaccine injury research is minimal. Teenaged victims have taken their stories to Facebook and YouTube. Websites like www.TruthAboutGardasil.org list victims’ symptoms and photos. A documentary on HPV vaccine injury, “One More Girl,” is currently being filmed by ThinkExist Productions.
Glossed over in most media is possible influence peddling by Governor Rick Perry’s former chief of staff Mike Toomey, who went to work for Merck, the manufacturer of the Gardasil HPV vaccine. The legislative group Women In Government was courted by HPV vaccine manufacturers; a subsequent 2007 Minnesota HPV vaccine bill sponsored by WIG attendees was defeated.
The Washington Post did run “Perry’s Financial Ties to Merck Run Deep” on 9/14/11, but concluded with this tepid caveat: “[S]ome experts have said they are concerned that there is insufficient evidence about how long Gardasil’s protection will last, whether serious side effects will emerge and whether a reduction in infections will necessarily translate into fewer cancers.”
Despite these unanswered questions, a bill to allow 12-year-olds to get the HPV vaccine without parents’ consent is on the desk of California Governor Jerry Brown. Yet few media outlets have reported on the myriad negative implications of this usurpation of parental health care rights.
Media’s repeated failure to investigate vaccine safety issues is perhaps best summarized this week in an insightful analysis by Alison Bass, a Brandeis and Mount Holyoke journalism professor, science writer, Pulitzer Prize nominee, and author of the book “Side Effects”:
“I wish the media would use this opportunity to explore the public health ramifications of allowing a drug manufacturer to aggressively target the wrong population for an expensive and possibly unnecessary vaccine.”