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
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.
The most ambitious goal of medical researchers is to find ways to prevent diseases. Methods to accomplish that goal do exist for certain illnesses, but are rare for others. Two recent medical studies on the molecular level exemplify the effort of the scientists to contribute to strengthening it against organ failure and to immunizing the body against viruses.
Avoiding a bad heart condition
In the US, 1.5 million people suffer from a heart attack each year of which one third is killed by it. Scientists of the Lund University in Sweden have now discovered a way to reduce the risk of a heart attack through a vaccination. The researchers have developed a therapy which leads to the production of antibodies attacking the accumulation of fat deposits in the arteries. Such therapies are often the result of comprehensive research collaborations on an international level, and also rely on the recommendation by the antibody supplier, which provides the appropriate kits for long-term clinical studies. The promising research results are hoped to lead to an introduction of the antibody therapy within the next five years.
A vaccine against cervical cancer
The vaccination Cervarix was approved in various European countries and the US between 2007 and 2009. It has been a great success as it immunizes the body against certain types of the Human Papillomavirus which were proved to be the cause of genital warts and cervical cancer by the German researcher Harald zur Hausen. Since its approval, many young girls and boys have got the three necessary injections and have thereby reduced their risk to fall ill to cervical, vaginal, penile, vulvae and anal cancer.
New results in the prevention of cervical cancer
In order to optimize the vaccine, scientists continue studying its effects in relation to the virus. It has been found out recently that even people who do not get the shot may profit from it through the phenomenon of herd immunity. It is related to the fact that vaccinated people do not transmit the virus to their potentially unvaccinated sexual partners and thereby help reduce the circulation of the virus. Hence, the virus may disappear or get extinct over time. This fact, however, should not prevent young people from getting vaccinated themselves. After all, one does not always know if a sexual partner is immunized or not. On top of that, it has to be noted that there are still some oncogenic types of the Human Papillomavirus which are not covered by the current vaccines. It therefore remains the challenge of the scientists to develop serums to cover a broader range of HPV virus.