A few weeks ago I wrote about the fact that Katie Couric’s new daytime television show Katie was planning to air a segment about HPV vaccine. After hearing the proposed line-up for the show it was clear that the HPV vaccine was not going to be portrayed favorably. And as expected, the conversation has blown up all over the internet in the past 24 hours with many reporters and bloggers calling out Katie Couric and her producers for how poorly they’ve handled this important conversation.
Unfortunately, daytime television ratings are driven by emotion and controversy and Katie Couric’s producers know that. So despite the overwhelming research available on the safety and efficacy of the HPV vaccine, that information was not adequately presented to the millions of viewers of her show.
But there was one other thing notably missing.
It was the voices of those who have suffered with HPV related cancers. And those family members who speak out on behalf of those lost to HPV related cancers.
Since the Katie Couric neglected to include a single cervical cancer survivor, I’m encouraging anyone who has had a personal experience with an HPV related cancer to speak out and let others know just how terrifying it has been for you. You may share your story in the comments below or send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I would like to encourage everyone to share your opinions of the episode with one of the show’s producers (Beth.Cochran@katiecouric.com).
Below are just a few of the HPV related stories that are featured on the Shot By Shot website. They are all very compelling and emotional and I hope that someday they will get the kind of attention that the Katie show has given to those critical of the vaccine.
In this video, Heather Burcham shares her story of cervical cancer just two months before she died. Her hope was to change just one person’s life by encouraging others to get the HPV vaccine.
This is an excellent video filmed at the national Cervical Cancer Coalition conference in Atlanta, GA, in January 2013 which highlights stories from cervical cancer survivors and family members of women who have died from the disease. These personal stories highlight the devastating impact of cervical cancer and emphasizes the importance of prevention in the form of vaccines and regular screening–prevention that can save lives.
By Amy Pisani, Executive Director of Every Child By Two
Last week a group of activists from The Canary Party held a Congressional briefing which was intended to raise criticism of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). In response, Shot of Prevention posted a detailed rebuttal, written by vaccine advocate and law professor Dorit Reiss, which addressed the issues raised during the hearing. We have since learned that Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has responded to the briefing by scheduling a full hearing to review the NVICP. Unfortunately, since the Canary Party openly subscribes to the belief that ingredients in vaccines cause harm, there is reason to believe that this hearing may not only address concerns regarding the NVICP, but will once again question the widely refuted hypothesis that vaccines cause autism.
We have been down this road before. Several times actually. And the science is clear on this issue. Vaccines don’t cause autism. That is why vaccine advocacy organizations, like Every Child By Two and many others, are asking for your support. We’re working to educate the committee members regarding the benefits of the current compensation program, to alert them to improvements that have already been suggested by the Advisory Committee on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV), and to help suggest experts who can testify in regards to each of the concerns raised.
But the members of the committee need to hear from you as well. Below is a summary of our collective concerns and we’re asking you to include discussion of these points in a phone call or email to the committee members for their consideration.
Some background information on the
National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP):
In 1986, Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act, creating the NVICP as a no-fault alternative to the tort system. NVICP is the quickest, easiest way to ensure that those rare individuals who have been injured by a vaccine are appropriately compensated. Because petitioners do not have to prove fault but only causation, it is easier to prevail in the NVICP than it would be in civil court. The program has paid out over $2.7 billion to 3,412 petitioners since the program’s first filings in 1989. In order to encourage attorneys to take on these cases, the program is the only court that pays attorneys’ fees regardless of whether the petitioner is successful. The program has paid over $162.4 million to attorneys in both successful and unsuccessful cases.
Fortunately, when the program was created a mechanism for ongoing oversight was initiated with the creation of the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV). The ACCV consists of nine voting members (two of whom are parents of vaccine injured children) who meet regularly each year to make recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on issues relating to the NVICP. Every Child By Two would like to urge people to email members of the Committee in order to ensure that the NVICP remains in effect and that the focus remains on areas where the program can be improved, without digression into other matters.
Some points to include in your correspondence:
The program works. NVICP is critical to ensuring the compensation of individuals who, in rare instances, have been harmed by vaccines. Over 3,000 petitioners have been compensated over $2.7 billion since the program’s inception. A few people, making false claims against vaccines, should not be allowed to derail the entire system.
The program advances vaccine development. This program has saved lives by encouraging vaccine companies to develop life-saving vaccines such as those against hepatitis, pneumococcal disease, HIB, HPV, and meningitis, to name a few.
Remedies to the current program can be facilitated through the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV). Recommendations for improvements to the program which have been made by the commission in place, are not always acted upon, but are already detailed at the following link http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/commissionchildvaccines.html.
The science is in: Vaccines do NOT cause autism. Countless public health agencies around the world have tested and retested the theory that vaccines cause autism. All have concluded that they do not. For a list of safety studies see our Vaccinate Your Baby website. Read more…
The flu is predictably unpredictable. Each year we know it’s coming and yet people – sometimes even children - will fall ill and die. We just can’t predict when it will arrive, how severe it will be or how many will die as a result. Yesterday’s news, included reports of four influenza cases in Michigan and the first flu related fatality in LA County, remind us that the 2013-2014 influenza season is upon us. As prepared as I am, this USA Today headline seemed to sum up my constant concern as a mother: Even Healthy Kids Can Die From Flu Complications
The article highlighted details of a new report published in Pediatrics entitled Influenza-Associated Pediatric Deaths in the United States, 2004-2012.
Some of the most notable statistics from the report include the following:
The flu is fatal to children: 830 kids died from flu-related complications between October 2004 and September 2012. Their median age was 7.
Healthy kids die from flu: 43% of the children who died from flu associated deaths were otherwise healthy and didn’t have high-risk medical conditions. Children without medical conditions were more likely to die before hospital admission and 35% of pediatric deaths during this period occurred either at home or on their way to the hospital.
Vaccination is your best preventive measure: Most flu associated deaths occurred among children who were NOT vaccinated.
Some people are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu: Older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), as well as those who live in facilities such as nursing homes, should be especially vigilant against the flu since they are at greater risk of complications. However, it is interesting to note that the risk of influenza associated hospitalization in young children is similar to the risk known for older adults. Something that many parents fail to realize.
In light of this report and other flu related data from last season, I’m relieved that my children have already been vaccinated. When I schedule their appointments each year I’m reminded of the following:
We know and love plenty of people whose health is fragile, such as newborn babies, pregnant women and those undergoing cancer treatment. Last year my daughter’s 13-year-old friend, and trick-or-treat companion, was undergoing cancer treatment. This year my father in law is battling cancer. And we’ll be seeing several family members who are either pregnant or have young children over the upcoming holidays. Then there’s my 90-year-old aunt. She may not have any underlying health conditions, but a bout of the flu could certainly land her in the hospital. By getting ourselves vaccinated we are also helping to protect other vulnerable members of our communities from falling ill with the flu.
We’ve also witnessed the severity and unpredictability of the flu over the years. My husband’s co-worker, a healthy young man in his early 30′s, succumbed to the flu years ago. My own daughter was a victim of H1N1 during that pandemic year. My best friend’s son was hospitalized two times with influenza. And how could I forget the personal stories from Families Fighting Flu and Shot by Shot of children lost to influenza. As parents, we vaccinate our children to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to protect them from a dangerous illness that could possibly result in death.
And if you’re already preparing to explain why you won’t get yourself or your family vaccinated, than I have just one request. Check out Tara Haelle’s grand effort to “set the record straight” with her thorough take down of almost every flu vaccine myth ever heard. As a science writer, Tara’s colossal post lists 25 flu vaccine myths and then literally attacks each of them in detail. With a grand total of 109 links, more than half of which link directly to peer-reviewed studies in medical research, your bound to find the scientific response to anything you’ve ever wanted to know about influenza vaccine.
To find out more about why flu vaccination matters, listen to a few personal stories compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Statistics show that by age two, one in eight children were undervaccinated at some point in time due to parental decisions to delay or refuse certain vaccines. Despite the evidence that the infant immunization schedule is safe and well-tested, some parents remain concerned that their child may be receiving too many vaccines at once, or too many at such a young age. “Their bodies are too small to handle it?” they say.
But what if research discovered that a child was better able to handle certain vaccines when they were younger, as opposed to when they got older? What if delaying vaccines actually put children at a greater risk of suffering an adverse reaction to the vaccine?
By taking a closer look at the vaccine safety surveillance data of 850,000 children, 12-23 months of age, that is essentially what researchers have discovered. A recent study, published online in JAMA Pediatrics yesterday, found that the risk of fever and seizure after receipt of measles containing vaccines significantly increased in 16-23 month old children, as compared to 12-16 month old children. Not only does this research suggest that delaying vaccination is not necessarily a safer choice, it also suggests that a more robust immune response in older children, versus younger children, may result in a higher risk of fever and a lower threshold for seizure.
According to a detailed editorial written by Dr. Kristen A. Feemster and Dr. Paul Offit in response to this research, ”vaccines are recommended at certain ages and intervals to optimize the immune response, ensure protection when a child is most at risk for disease acquisition, and minimize adverse events.” The editorial goes on to explain that this type of research reinforces the well-established safety and timing of the current schedule, while also providing an example of how vaccine safety surveillance methods can be used to identify outcomes associated with alternative vaccine schedules. Read more…
Today I’ll be picking my children up from school and driving them to the local health department where we will receive our seasonal influenza vaccines. Within minutes, I expect we’ll be vaccinated and on our way home. And all the while, I’ll consider myself and my children extremely fortunate to live in America.
Not only will our vaccine help protect us from the dangers of the flu this season, but previous vaccines keep me from worrying about many preventable diseases, such as polio. Unlike many parents in foreign nations, I won’t have to walk for hours, carrying my children in my arms, hoping that by the time I make it to the vaccination clinic there will be someone there to administer the vaccine. And I certainly won’t fear for our safety any time before, during or after the appointment.
And while I’ve been reading personal stories of polio survivors on the Rotary Voices blog this month, in preparation for World Polio Day on October 24th, yesterday’s headlines were a grim reminder of just how much American parents take for granted.
The New York Times reported,
“At least two police officers were killed and a dozen people wounded on Monday when a bomb went off near a health care facility where polio vaccines were being dispensed outside this northwestern Pakistani city.”
While not the bombs of a typical war, these bombs were certainly a violent way to intimidate people and deter vaccination in a country where polio is not yet eradicated. And this is not the first time that polio vaccination workers, and their efforts to eradicate polio have been targeted. The anti-vaccine sentiment in Pakistan is not only being fought with bombs and guns, but with rumors and lies. While extreme religious leaders have suggested that the vaccines are intended to make Muslims infertile, others have accused polio workers of using vaccination campaigns as a cover to spy on behalf of the United States. Read more…