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Katie Couric issues mea culpa on HPV vaccine controversy

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Katie Couric has admitted a disproportionate reporting on HPV vaccine controversy during an episode of her show.

She said some of the criticism that the episode was too anti-vaccine and anti-science “was valid”.

“We simply spent too much time on the serious adverse events that have been reported in very rare cases following the vaccine,” Katie Couric wrote in a blog post published Huffington Post.

“More emphasis should have been given to the safety and efficacy of the HPV vaccines.”


The December 4 episode of Katie show had been criticized for promoting arguments from moms who said their daughters were harmed by the vaccines, including one whose child died. Katie Couric also interviewed HPV researcher Dr. Diane Harper, chair of family medicine at the University of Louisville. Harper had researched the vaccine and said its protection would wear off after five years.

Experts were quick to point out that scientific evidence didn’t jive with the opinions from Katie Couric’s guests.

Katie Couric has admitted a disproportionate reporting on HPV vaccine controversy

Katie Couric has admitted a disproportionate reporting on HPV vaccine controversy

For the 57 million doses of the vaccine given out from June 2006 through March 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) has received at least 22,000 reports of adverse events in girls and women. About 92 percent of which were classified as non-serious. The other almost 8% of serious side effects included headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, fainting and generalized weakness.

Katie Couric’s blog post devoted more space to the science. She highlighted the risk between HPV and cancer, citing estimates that each year about 26,000 Americans are diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV.

She noted that while the vast majority of side effects to the HPV vaccine are not serious, she said she still felt the need to share the two patient stories on her show.

“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,” she wrote.

“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.”

She added that as a cancer-prevention advocate, one of her goals was to affirm the importance of getting Pap tests and that people should not skip gynecological visits just because they got an HPV vaccine.

Katie Couric also expressed support for the vaccine, adding her own two daughters had been vaccinated.