Gardasil, Merck’s clumsy HPV vaccine, has garnered a lot of attention—a mix of hype and bad press. Now this has Tara Parker-Pope of the Well blog wondering if the media should be blamed for Gardasil’s hot air. Check it out:
Whether you agree with their conclusions or not, the report offers an interesting view of the media’s sometimes unquestioning role in raising the profile of the vaccines. The report cites several examples, including:
- ABC’s Charles Gibson told viewers “this breakthrough couldn’t come soon enough,” on the June 8, 2006 “World News Tonight.”
- NBC’s Brian Williams called Gardasil a “triumph in science and medicine” on June 8, 2006. He referred to Gardasil as “the first vaccine to prevent cancer” on Dec. 28, 2006, and urged parents to get their children vaccinated in many “Today” appearances.
- NBC’s “Today” show co-host Meredith Vieira declared that it “could save your teenager’s life some day” on Sept. 15, 2006. She also told viewers Gardasil was one of the three vaccines kids “need.” Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s chief medical editor, downplayed criticism of the expense of Gardasil, calling the $360 cost “the best investment you can make.”
- For “The Early Show” on CBS, Dr. Emily Senay said Jan. 1, 2007, that the “top medical breakthrough [of 2006] has to be the cancer vaccine for cervical cancer, Gardasil.”
- The report also says The New York Times “glowingly profiled Gardasil” in an August 2006 story about the history of the vaccine.
Sure, I think someone jumped the gun. Let me remind you. Dr. Fuhrman points out that Gardasil ONLY protects against 4 of the 100 strains of HPV and Gardasil can KILL. So yeah, hype much!
UPDATE: New research claims that severe allergic reactions are 20 times more likely in those vaccinated with Gardasil—via Reuters.