Last Thursday, February 5th, The Toronto Star published an “investigative report” on one of the HPV vaccines, Gardasil. I read it through and thought it was awful, irresponsible, bad reporting. I immediately tweeted Dr. Jen Gunter to ask if she had seen it. She replied that she was already drafting a post. I have followed Dr. Gunter’s blog for years. She’s not only an OB-GYN who writes about sexual health but she is also, like me, the mother of children born prematurely. She wrote The Preemie Primer, a book I highly recommend if you are either expecting multiples or have recently given birth to a premature baby.
Dr. Gunter’s response to The Star was terrific, as was her contribution to the CBC radio program, As It Happens. The Star‘s reply, (at least the only one so far) was from Heather Mallick. If you thought the paper’s original article was bad, Mallick’s column was a veritable word salad, tossed liberally with condescension and meanness. In response to tweets critical of her piece, Ms. Mallick has been blocking doctors, pharmacists and pretty much everyone on Twitter. In fact, if you are active on Twitter and haven’t yet been #BlockedByMallick, you should probably feel slighted.
I have written about vaccines before but not in a long time. I am going to try and find time to write about them again, not because I have scientific advice to share but because I have concerns about recent media coverage regarding vaccination and I also have some ideas about things we can all do (from a practical perspective) to counter anti-vaccine propaganda and fear mongering. As far as the HPV vaccine is concerned, all I have to say is that, regardless of intent, The Star‘s story has become fuel for the anti-vax movement. People are gleefully sharing it on Twitter using the “CDC Whistleblower” hashtag and conspiracist extraordinaire, Alex Jones, has republished The Star‘s piece on his Info Wars website.
For more general information on the HPV vaccine, in addition to everything that Dr. Gunter has already written, check out this Healthcare Triage video. And if you’re in need of a giggle, here’s the epic HPV folk/rap mashup everyone’s been yearning for, More Than Warts.
For now I decided to crochet to let off some steam and this morning I made up a wee crocheted version of HPV:
P.S. If you’re a return reader, as you can see, the site looks different (that will continue to change) as it’s now commerce compatible. I now have an online shop, although there’s nothing in it yet…getting there.