Girl dies shortly after vaccine shot

By Phil Plait | September 29, 2009 11:59 am

[UPDATE (October 2): As predicted, it appears that the vaccine did not cause this young woman’s untimely and tragic death; it was a malignant tumor in her chest that caused the fatality. As I pointed out, if you give enough vaccinations, there are likely to be coincidental deaths shortly thereafter. My condolences to her family on this awful circumstance.]

That headline above is factually accurate. Of course, most people reading it will assume that the vaccination caused the death. But we have no evidence of that yet, so try not to jump to conclusions.

The Daily Mail is reporting that a young woman, aged 14, died shortly after receiving a vaccine shot (they call them "jabs" in the UK) for HPV, to prevent cervical cancer. They are reporting that about an hour after the shot she became pale, stopped breathing, and fainted. Rescuers were not able to save her.

This story, first and foremost, is horrible and tragic. My heart goes out to the parents of the young woman and to all her friends and schoolmates. This is an awful thing, what every parent dreads.

I want to be careful and not rush to judgment, though. First and foremost, we don’t know that the vaccination is why she died. The Daily Mail is not exactly the most trusted news source, to start off with. I am taking events reported therein with a large grain of salt.

Second, we don’t know why she died at all. Reports of that have not yet been aired.

Third, complications of any kind from vaccinations are incredibly rare. Gardasil, an HPV vaccination (though different than the one the girl in England received), has been given to over 7 million girls, yet there have been only 20 deaths after getting the shot… and for almost all of them there is no obvious relation between the shot and the fatality except for timing. In other words, they were tragic coincidences.

As one person pointed out on Twitter, you could write an article that says "Man dies after reading the Daily Mail", since I’m sure that will happen many times every day.

As skeptics tirelessly point out: correlation does not mean causation. Because an event happens after a previous event, it doesn’t mean the first caused the second. Is it possible the vaccination resulted in that girl’s death? Yes, it’s possible. However, was it responsible? That we don’t know, and have to wait.

And if it was responsible, we need to find out why. Did she have a rare condition? Was it a bad batch? Was she terribly scared of shots, and her heightened fear exacerbated a heart condition? The point is, we don’t know.

What I do know is that the antivax crowd will go ballistic over this, despite not having enough facts to make a rational conclusion here. But facts are tenuous or malleable things to them, only useful for ignoring or distortion.

In the comments below I expect we’ll hear a lot of the usual misinformation about toxins and autism and mercury and fetal tissue, long-debunked worries over vaccines. Let’s please remember two things here: one is that we don’t know what happened, and the other is that a young girl has died, and we should all be respectful of that.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Alt-Med, Antiscience, Skepticism

Comments (151)

  1. Brace yourselves – the liars, the scam artists, the morons, and the JAQoffs will be out in full force on this one.

    My suggestion? Put on some soft music and just skim the comments trying to avoid the senseless ravings of the intellectually devoid.

  2. Zyggy

    I’m pretty sure this is a typo – “…correlation does not causation.”

    and I love the twitter quote “Man dies after reading Daily News.” I would love to see the headline(s): “Woman dies after eating breakfast” or even “Man dies after breathing.” It sadly amounts to about the same thing. We don’t yet know why this young lady died.

    Terrible loss for the young girl’s family, my heart goes out to them.

    I also sincerely hope (although do not expect) that the anti-vaxxers do not get wind of this one. This is exactly the kind of thing they love to see. Somehow they will twist (or ignore) the facts so that this unfortunate incident seems to support their nonsensical babble.

  3. Rutrow

    The following is a TRUE STORY!!!:

    I know of a 14 year old girl that died IMMEDIATELY after NOT TAKING the Gardasil vaccine! Somewhere… at some time, I know this to be true.

    What does it mean? Absolutely nothing.

  4. To other commenters to follow, please, please, please refrain from blaming the vaccine and promoting fear of it until there actually is evidence that the vaccine was at all connected.

    Second, please also take a peek at my site (click on my name), Science-Based Medicine and other science-based medical sites before commenting on vaccines in general.

    Edited to add: It looks like someone has already posted the story in the forums on Prison Planet, and HuffPo has a link to an article on it in Canada.

  5. Ivan

    if we look 14 billion light years will a large telescope will we see the big bang?

    That being said, wed have to be on the out limits of the universe. If we pointed the same telescope in the opposite direction would we see nothing?

  6. Dawn

    @Zyggy: too late for that. The anti-vaxxxers are already on it. “Robert” posted something about this early this morning on LeftBrainRightBrain.co.uk (Autism Blog) but didn’t say where it happened nor, when I last checked did he reply to my request as to location.

  7. James

    I imagine it was probably a rare allergic reaction.

  8. In the BBC article I read, they reported that “A small number of girls at the school had also reported mild symptoms such as dizziness and nausea but were not admitted to hospital”. Maybe this will shed some light on the ultimate cause.

    Actually, the BBC is a pretty damn good source for impartial reporting, especially in cases like this. They pretty much sat exactly what you have Phil, that the cause of the girl’s death won’t be known until the autopsy has been carried out and that the vaccine might have had nothing to do with it. They also have a great pie-chart showing the number of vaccines administered versus the number of adverse reactions in the UK.

    Here’s the article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8279855.stm

  9. Greg

    Lurker posts shortly after reading blog article.

  10. Phillip M

    I took a lot of flack for being anti-vax for not wanting to get a flu shot (I am healthy 30 year old so I didn’t see a need), so to distance myself from arguments like the one in Huff and the like I just got my flu shot today.

    I am a statistician; therefore, I cannot read the newspaper or watch the news. I read articles like this one and I cringe. Statistically, this death is the furthermost outlier in the data and we would typically acknowledge the outlier explain it through random processes. Is this death statistically significant (not to sound like a dick here but if 10,000,000 people have been given the “jab” one death is not statistically significant)? Does anyone know the number of HPV vaccines have been administered?

    How many people have died from snake oil?

  11. WadeF

    @Ivan: way to keep it relative.

    More to the point, however, these things are going to happen. It’s inevitable and the anti-vaxxers know it. They will, of course, ‘capitalize’ on this opportunity even in the face of reason. Facts and reasonable behavior aren’t really their forte’. We just have to keep doing what we do and putting the facts out there and hope that the fence sitters see them as exactly that, facts.

  12. Steve

    “[Headteacher Julie Roberts] said: ‘During the session an unfortunate incident occurred and one of the girls suffered a rare, but extreme reaction to the vaccine.'”

    “A post-mortem examination will take place to determine the exact cause of Natalie’s death.”

    It seems to me that Dr Roberts might be jumping to conclusions here.

    “[A fellow pupil said], ‘About an hour after having the jab Natalie went really pale and wasn’t breathing. I think it was around lunchtime.'”

    Something tells me we won’t see much press coverage if it turns out the girl had an allergic reaction to something in her lunch.

  13. @Zyggy,

    That breathing stuff can be dangerous, you know. Do you know what kinds of chemicals there are in air? There’s nitrogen, nitric oxide, dihydrogen monoxide, sulphur dioxide and a host of other chemicals which could kill you (if you were put in a sealed chamber with only them to breathe). This atmosphere was obviously put here to poison us so Big Pharma could sell us “cures.” That’s why I’m joining a group who is refusing to breathe until the atmosphere is replaced with one that is 100% safe to breathe!

    Odd. Not sure why I’m feeling dizzy. Perhaps I need another of bottle of homeopathic oxygen. It was a steal at $19.95 for a 32oz bottle-full!

  14. I am a rare poster here, but I just wanted people to know that I am not the “Robert” that Dawn is talking about in her post #6.

  15. Matt Jeffryes

    If you don’t like the Daily Mail article, you can read the BBC’s article, or the Guardian’s, or the Independent’s. Although I somewhat agree with the premise of your post, there’s no need to use the Mail reporting it as a strawman argument. Plenty of more reputable news sources are also carrying the story. Further, I think you are taking your assumptions in the opposite direction. It seems likely at this point that she did die as a result of the jab. Does this change the fact that the jab has been safely administered to over a million other girls? No. It is unfortunate however, that parents will not take this into account when they prevent their daughters from having the HPV vaccine. Whatever comes of this story, HPV jab uptake will certainly reduce.

  16. Dawn

    @Robert: sorry! I thought I made it clear it was a person called Robert who posted the news on LBRB. No offense meant to any other Roberts! :-)

  17. WilliamAngelo

    Personal responsibility is better than the HPV vaccine. And there are no side effects or risks.

  18. anon

    Phil, you’re a fine astronomer, but what precisely does your medical background consist of?

    Regarding gardasil, can you tell me the number one way the medical profession suggests to prevent cervical cancer and how that compares to gardasil? Can you tell us if gardasil in any way eliminates the need for women to use the number one way to prevent cervical cancer? (That’s the pap smear, still the number one way to *prevent* cervical cancer.)

    Can you tell us about the ways in which gardasil has been proven to be effective in the 5th and 6th grade group of girls that it is targeted at in many states in the US?

    Can you tell us about studies discussing long term effectiveness of the vaccine?

    Can you tell us about studies exploring what impact gardasil will have on the many other strains of virus known to cause cervical cancer, and the bodies response to those strains after taking gardasil? What do the studies show?

    Can you tell us what the (female) doctor (Diane Harper) in charge of testing gardasil says about giving it to 11 year old girls?

    Can you tell us at what age women contract cervical cancer? Can you contrast the HPV vaccination with vaccinations for rubella, or encephalitis which are an immediate danger to the individual or community?

    What scientific advancements do you think will occur in the next 20-30 years in the field of cervical cancer prevention and treatment?

    If an MD came here to tell us all about Planet X, how would you question their credentials?

    You have written about this before, but are you a) actually qualified or are you just exploiting your ph.d in one field into another field that you are actually unqualified to write about, and b) Is an understandable and reasonable bias against the anti-science industry persuading you into taking knee jerk stands?

  19. Is it possible that this girl had some type of allergy, that she, or her parents (and doctor) were not aware of? (Yes). Every time I am prescribed a new medication, my doctor will ask if I am allergic to any medications. I mention the one that I am allergic to, and he writes out a prescription for what he believes is a suitable medication. However, that does not rule out the possibility, however slight, of a reaction to that medication. Unfortunately, some people have severe reactions to things after being exposed to them. It does not invalidate the vaccine or the medication! That is something the anti-vaxxers fail to admit. Out of the literally tens of millions helped by vaccines, there are bound to be unfortunate cases such as this. (And, we do not know why this girl died yet).

    @#14, WilliamAngelo:
    Yeah, that’s what a certain Vice Presidential nominee said…

    Obviously personal responsibility is better, but study after study shows that abstinence only education does not work.

  20. Anyone remember the story of the (linked to in my name) of the couple who used homeopathic medicine to treat their baby’s eczema only to have the eczema get worse, infected, and lead to the baby’s death? The couple was arrested and was just convicted of manslaughter by criminal negligence. If the anti-vax crowd says “this one death after a vaccine jab proves that all vaccines are dangerous”, we can counter “well, this one homeopathic treatment leads to death proves that all homeopathic treatments are dangerous – it’s either that or correlation doesn’t equal causation!”

    Of course, the homeopathic treatments didn’t cause the girl’s death per se. Using them instead of normal eczema treatments is what allowed the eczema to get worse and become infected. If the parents had just gone to the local pharmacy and purchased some $10 eczema cream, their baby would be alive today. Really, really sad.

  21. @WilliamAngelo

    Personal responsibility is better than the HPV vaccine. And there are no side effects or risks.

    Errr…what? How exactly is personal responsibility supposed to prevent infection? E.g., suppose a woman, who has abstained all her life, decides she wants to have a child with her husband, who is infected with the virus. How does personal responsibility come into play? How about if the situation is reversed. A man who has abstained decides he wants a child with his infected wife. What about rape victims? I fail to see how personal responsibility plays any role in those situations.

  22. drow

    She just wasn’t skeptical enough.

  23. Flavio

    It’s already out there, the LA Times has an article saying all vaccines are not safe…

    The sad irony, a 14-yo girl suddenly died in the US after being diagnosed with H1N1. Of course, she was not vaccinated (I guess just because, not that the family was against it).

  24. amphiox

    “Man dies after reading the Daily Mail”

    Given the way reading the Daily Mail can raise some people’s blood pressure, at least some of those deaths will be directly causative.

    “Personal responsibility is better than the HPV vaccine”

    Personal responsibility has such a great track record, as teen pregnancy rates among virginity pledgers, infidelity rates among the married, recividism rates among sex offenders after therapy, etc, all attest to. The most accurate analogy I can think of is a condom made of very cheap rubber. Yeah, it works perfectly, when it works. But it tends to break. A lot.

  25. @Flavio

    The sad irony, a 14-yo girl suddenly died in the US after being diagnosed with H1N1. Of course, she was not vaccinated (I guess just because, not that the family was against it).

    Well, seeing as the H1N1 vaccine is not available yet, it’s not really a surprise that she was not vaccinated.

  26. Mena

    Let’s not forget the other headline:
    “Woman dies after struggle with cervical cancer”
    Oh wait, that isn’t rare enough to merit a headline…

  27. Zyggy

    @TechyDad – ROFL, Dihydrogen Monoxide – The Homeopathic “Serum”?

  28. WilliamAngelo

    @ Todd W

    Look at all the sites that give information about HPV vaccine. ALL stress personal responsibility to prevent from getting this terrible disease. I don’t see any talking about rape as a reason to get the vaccine.

    HPV and finding an HIV vaccine is all about science trying to find cures for bad behaviors.
    Blood testing before marriage is a good idea too.

    Oh and yes people stray even while married. Guess a woman should say to herself…i better get the vaccine so if my husband strays I’ll be protected. Again it all comes back to being responsible doesn’t it? Don’t stray and be honest…no disease to catch.

    If only rape victims and those victims of marital infidelity got the disease, I assure you BIG PHARM would not be in such a hurry to find cures. Not enough people getting the disease that way to make finding a treatment worth their time and money.

  29. Lars

    @WilliamAngelo: If humans were purely rational beings with 100% self controll all the time, then possibly you’d have a point. As it is, you don’t.

  30. @ William Angelo:
    “HPV and finding an HIV vaccine is all about science trying to find cures for bad behaviors.”

    Yes, tell the children born with HIV that, especially those in Africa, where a certain Church based out of Rome refuses to teach its flock that condom use will prevent AIDS and a host of other STDs.

    As far as those who stray in marriage, I suppose we could go back to the Bible which advocates stoning adulterers…

    Your ignorance is astounding!

  31. anon

    “HPV and finding an HIV vaccine is all about science trying to find cures for HUMAN behaviors.”

  32. @WilliamAngelo

    Cheating and rape are not the only ways to get HPV. People can be completely monogamous and still get it. There’s a decent chance that everyone posting on this blog has the virus, symptomatic or not. In an ideal world, your idea would work just swell. We don’t live in an ideal world, though.

  33. Phillip M

    @WilliamAngelo

    Well if Big Pharm is so bad why don’t you swear off modern medicine. And before you belittle the research they do you might want to ask how life would be without them.

    The amount of money they have to spend to get one drug to the market would bankrupt the majority of countries in this world. Of course they make money that is what drives them to do more research.

  34. Charles Boyer

    anon,

    a better question is what are your qualifications, and can you answer by your own research the very questions you pose?

    To be utterly clear, by “answering” I mean NOT parroting something something someone else said that you really don’t understand. I DO mean answering through your own scholarly and studied research, of a subject in which you are well-versed and fully knowledgeable of the underlying and ancillary fundamentals.

    Frankly, I do not think you can, and if you try, I suspect you will try to lie. Your provenance is fear-mongering by echoing so-called facts you cannot verify or even understand if you could.

    Please, do tell us, and quit hiding behind a pseudonym. If you want to challenge Dr. Plait, please do so in the full light of exposure as opposed to the cowardly darkness.

  35. CJSF

    @WilliamAngelo

    What about people who may have made poor choices and then become “responsible?” What if they did something in their past and got infected, and they don’t know and now they have their life all together and “respectable?”

    Or what if one partner ISN’T honest, and takes advantage of the other? Way to help protect the meek and vulnerable.

    It doesn’t even have to be “straying.” Can you seriously not think of any reason why someone might be at risk of infection and “deserve” to have the vaccine?

    CJSF

  36. WilliamAngelo

    MichaelL said: Yes, tell the children born with HIV that, especially those in Africa, where a certain Church based out of Rome refuses to teach its flock that condom use will prevent AIDS and a host of other STDs.

    Your ignorance is astounding with that comment. Using a condom will NOT PREVENT AIDS or other STDs. Just REDUCES the risk of catching one.!!! Big difference wouldn’t you say?
    Forget mythology coming out of Rome. If the people in Africa are so stupid to realize for themselvs that having 10 kids and having 8 die from disease and starvation and do nothing about it..oh well.

  37. Ironically, I have an article open in another tab about Glenn Beck and his ‘average Americans’ that includes mention of anti-vaxxers. It’s on Media Matters for America at:

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/200909290030#597637

  38. Tim

    It is also in the BBC website now, a much better news agent.

    There does seem to be a possibility that the batch with which the girl was injected was infected, as more girls at the school have reported side effects (but not lethal), much higher than is normally the case.

  39. anon

    Charles, anonymity is not cowardice. That’s of course an ad hominem.

    I think Phil Plait, with Ph.D, column at Discover, go to guy for astronomer can handle himself without your nasty charges of cowardice.

    What are my qualifications? Little. Degrees in engineering, math, and physics. Understanding of stats. A whole bunch of bio courses. Parent. Two daughters. Read the various websites. Agreed with many other liberal parents that gardasil probably is not the polio vaccine. Seen lots of people like Phil make the logical fallacy of deciding that to be anti-anti-vax means you have to support all vaccines. But all vaccines are not created equal. Seen lots of other people make the logical fallacy that only religious anti-sex nutcases are against gardasil. The truth is, a lot of parents of girls are wary, and wary because they want their kids to have a good life, including a good sex life.

    “Frankly, I do not think you can, and if you try, I suspect you will try to lie. ”

    Frankly, Charles, that’s the end of our conversation. I hear you still deny murdering and raping a girl in 1990.

    If you wanted a dialogue, that’s not the way to go about it.

    I asked Phil a series of questions, if you feel any of those questions are unfair, you were free to state that. Instead you personally attacked me several times. Have a good day sir, by which I mean, diaf.

  40. Lars

    @WilliamAngelo: Using seat belts will not save you from getting killed or injured in a car crash. It just reduces the risk. Big difference, wouldn’t you say?

    So let’s all stop using seat belts and try to drive responsibly instead. The seat belts fad is just a Big CarMaker conspiracy anyway.

    Yes, so you really do have a really good point after all. </irony>

  41. Charles Boyer
  42. Flavio

    @WilliamAngelo

    Go burn yourself, straw man! http://www.fallacyfiles.org/strawman.html

    Nobody says vaccines and condoms prevent diseases 100%, the point is reducing the risk enough to call it safe. Besides, everybody knows that condoms are not 100% effective mainly because of incorrect use—I guess a vaccine would benefit even the people who are still responsible, duh!

  43. KC

    The Armchair CSI will swing into action on this one! Please folks let the medical/forensic experts do their jobs before you start passing judgments on people and things you know nothing about!

  44. Cheyenne

    It’s a little worrisome to think about how the children are going to react to any future jabs (which should be administered at some point). I’d expect the “adverse reaction” rate is going to skyrocket just due to the psychological fear of getting the injection itself. Which could then re-enforce the initial fears of the jab and the UK could find itself with a program that becomes very, very difficult to administer.

  45. BBC reporting Cancer jab ‘unlikely’ death cause

    “Dr Caron Grainger, joint director of public health for NHS Coventry and Coventry City Council, said the results of a preliminary post-mortem examination had ‘revealed a serious underlying medical condition which was likely to have caused death’.”

  46. @Steve

    Thanks for the update.

  47. OtherRob

    @Todd W. #33

    There’s a decent chance that everyone posting on this blog has the virus, symptomatic or not.

    Don’t worry. I wore rubber gloves while typing this comment. ;)

  48. JoeSmithCA

    @TechyDad(#14)
    I tried homepathic air, but I almost drowned trying to breath it in :)

  49. Martin A. lessem, J.D.

    *DISCLAIMER* I am not a Medical Doctor

    There. Done. Now, it is important for us to wait for the autopsy results. They will hopefully tell us the why. Now realize, they might not find anything conclusive at all. If that were to be the case, what does it prove? The answer is *nothing*! It proves nothing at all.

    Conclusions based on lack of data/facts are weak at best. This is why we test our hypothesis before we come to conclusions. If we cannot test a hypothesis, we cannot have a valid conclusion.

    Do I think it was the vaccine? Most likely not. Vaccines are tested and retested for safety. In the US, drugs have to go through safety and efficacy testing before they hit the market, and that process is regulated. In my mind, vaccines are safe. And yes, I am vaccinated. The *one* year I forgot to get a flu shot, guess what? I got the flu! Big schock there. And let me tell you, as an asthmatic, the flu sucked big time.

    Do *not* use the article as an excuse to not vaccinate. Herd Immunity is important.

  50. Bill Nettles

    I got the seasonal flu shot on a Monday. Saturday I experienced a retinal tear (with rather disturbing symptoms) due to a vitreol detachment and had to have laser surgery. Of course, the detachment had nothing to do with the facts that I’m over 50 and nearsighted. It had to have been the flu shot. Or maybe it was that motorcycle wreck back in January.

    KC gets it right.

  51. @WilliamAngelo:
    You are correct, my wording was not. Condoms are not 100% fail-safe. However, in most instances where a condom has failed to protect against disease, it is because of improper use. However, the use of condoms, when used properly, which takes education, could have prevented countless deaths and infections. It is stupid to think that people will not have sex, or, what you term, engage in “bad behaviour”.

  52. RPJ

    “Personal responsibility is better than the HPV vaccine. And there are no side effects or risks.”

    yes yes, if we all joined a convent and vowed to remain pure and devote our lives to whatever deity we’re worshipping, we wouldn’t have any trouble. Better yet, we can become Borgs.

    For the rest of us, we rather enjoy life, and being out in the Big Bad World means that certain risks are present. If steps can be taken to reduce those risks without sacrificing enjoyment, why not?

    If freedom of choice doesn’t really fly with you, though, ponder this: No matter how much you bluster about your perfect ideological world, it ain’t gonna happen. period. No amount of preaching is gonna make everyone pure, ever. We work with the world we have, and institute practical solutions to the problems it poses. Pretending we live in fairyland is not helpful to anyone.

  53. bilhouse

    @anon

    Can you show where Dr. Plait dispensed medical advice?

    Can you show where Dr. Plait drew any conclusions in his original post?

    Can you show where Dr. Plait misused his Ph.D?

    Where does Dr. Plait say that all vaccines are great and everyone should get every vaccine?

    Where has Dr. Plait said that a person should not consult his/her doctor?

    You either a) did not read AND comprehend Dr. Plait’s original post, which was fairly straight forward, or b) jumped to a conclusion based on the assumptions you had before reading the post. Or it was a combination of the two.

    I am pretty sure that Dr. Plait’s point was to ask that people do NOT jump to conclusions, but to wait for the experts to figure out what happened.

    I am sure there are lots of questions that could be asked that would lead to a productive conversation on the topic, but your questions are framed to suggest that Dr. Plait has acted unethically.

  54. @TechyDad … brilliant, I especially love the dihydrogen monoxide and homeopathic oxygen (ever seen the dhmo website – http://www.dhmo.org/, it’s a good laugh!)

  55. TBell

    @WilliamAngelo says: “Personal responsibility is better than the HPV vaccine. And there are no side effects or risks.”

    Better how? Sure when “used correctly” personal responsibility (code for abstinence?) is 100% effective, but unfortunately it never is “used correctly”, as studies have shown (Santelli J et al. Abstinence and abstinence-only education: a review of U.S. policies and programs. Journal of Adolescent Health 2006; 38(1):72-81 and Society for Adolescent Medicine. Abstinence-only education policies and programs: a position paper of the Society for Adolescent Medicine. Journal of Adolescent Health 2006; 38(1):83-87). Sorry, but abstinence education on it’s own doesn’t work.

    @WilliamAngelo says: HPV and finding an HIV vaccine is all about science trying to find cures for bad behaviors.”

    No, vaccines for HPV and (hopefully) HIV are about preventing disease, just as MMR, polio and tetanus shots are. You’re the one who seems to want to cure “bad” behaviours.

    Oh, and BTW I have two pre-pubescent daughters. They will certainly be getting the HPV vaccine, along with numerous frank (and no doubt uncomfortable!) discussions about contraception and protection against STIs.

  56. As my friends and I are coming up on the age 26 barrier for getting Gardasil (can anyone tell me how strict that is?) I am concerned at the hesitation that still exists to get vaccinated. A headline like this can only send someone on the fence to the unvaccinated side, despite the obviously favorable statistics involved. I do, however, feel terrible for the girl’s parents.

    As for moronic statements such as “Personal responsibility is better than the HPV vaccine. And there are no side effects or risks,” that truly makes me sick. Shaming normal human behavior, twisting it to fit your own brand of morality, then further shaming those that do deal with negative side effects, it’s despicable. Do us a favor, WilliamAngelo, get off your high-horse.

  57. anon

    bilhouse, I’m at work atm, and a different ip, so very very briefly and not the response you may deserve, …

    a) Plait’s history as I’ve read it is to be pro-gardasil
    b) even in this post, he his pro-gardasil, the unfortunate girl was jabbed with cervarix, I suspect that he is making an apples and oranges comparison (or that hte folks handing out patents don’t understand how similar cervarix and gardasil are)
    c) a frequent shaming “logic” that is akin to handing out medical advice is that anti-vaxxers are nutjobs, so get a vaccination
    d) if you utilize informed consent and dissent to a vaccine you are a shameful nutjob religious anti-sex bastard who is harming the community by killing herd immunity
    e) saying a) talk to your doc, and b) if you don’t get a vaccine you’re hurting everyone is the giving out medical advice. It’s hypocritical and ethically wrong to say talk to your doc, but follow what this blog (and its commenters) say and do.

    With apologies to Phil, I don’t know if Plait does that. But I’ve seen that at many anti-anti-vax sites. And there’s a whiff of that and more in his posts the past few days.

    Is that abusing his Ph.D? If he his doing that on a blog about astronomy based on a ph.d in astronomy, then yeah, it’s an appeal to authority in a situation where is authority is not grounded.

    If he just wants to say, as Charlotte Haug, M.D. and others say, “it’s pretty damned complicated, here are the issues, make your choice, here is mine,” that’s one thing. To say, talk to your doc, but people who disagree with me are nutcakes is outrageous, and an abuse.

    Sorry, I can’t give you better.

    My complaint: not against vax. Against gardasil. Not for sex reasons. For medical reasons, scientific reasons, civil liberty reasons, parenting reasons, cost benefit reasons. Get those pap smears. Invest in science and medicine. Make vax opt-in not opt-out. Teach and educate. Make opt-out provisions real and with no fear of CPS and no backlash.

  58. Luke Donnelly

    With respect to Dr. Phil plait, of whom I’m a huge fan, correlation and causation are references to large numbers. One incident, however tragic and this one certainly is, has nothing to do with correlation. I believe a better term would have been, “post hoc ergo propter hoc”, it happened after therefore it happened because of, is the issue at hand. And the point I feel made by the twitter post.

  59. Phil! For shame!

    The correct quote is “correlation does not imply causation” which is correct, but usually misunderstood. A correlation means there IS a relationship between two things. There are three options for the causation of the relationship – A causes B, B causes A or C causes A and B.

    Now, what we usually call “correlation” is the observation of a probability of correlation. I.e. if I say I see a correlation between vaccinations and death, I’m saying I see a certain probability of there being an actual correlation.

    In this case there isn’t even that. There’s one case, which is called a coincidence (literally, two incidences happening together). You can’t even calculate the probability of a correlation from one data point!

  60. Utakata

    My immediate reaction was, “Did the girl have immune system issues?” I am curious to know…because that will likely kill off the vaccine as the main suspect.

    But as BA mentioned…we don’t know. I am sure we’ll found out after autopsy.

    Tragedy though… :(

  61. Shamik

    I am a medical student and this is literally what we learned about in class today. This sounds like a classic case of hypersensitivity to the vaccine. It wasn’t that the vaccine killed her per se, but rather that she was genetically predisposed to respond adversely to the vaccine. It is very rare and quite tragic, but certainly not a reason (nor should it ever be a reason) to stop vaccination.

  62. John

    I find it ironic that Phil can be criticised for have an opinion on the vaccination issue given the vast medical knowledge of Jenny McCarthy and other proponents of the anti vax lobby.

  63. Cairnos

    @ anon “(That’s the pap smear, still the number one way to *prevent* cervical cancer.)”

    Is this correct? Do pap smears actually prevent cervical cancer? How do they do this? My understanding (non-expert by any measure) was that they were used to detect early signs.

  64. @MichaelL,

    Unfortunately, Africa’s not the only place that is taught that condom use doesn’t help prevent AIDS/STDs. My wife used to be a teacher in a all girls’ catholic middle school. (For the record, we’re Jewish, not Christian.) She was tasked with teaching Health class, but luckily for her, they brought someone in to teach sex ed. Not so luckily, the woman started saying things like “condoms don’t protect against STDs or pregnancy because they are full of tiny holes that sperm/viruses can get through.” My wife couldn’t believe it!

    A girl came to her after the class was over and asked about the “teachings.” My wife didn’t want to give the girl bad advice, but also didn’t want to put her job in jeopardy by saying something completely anti-church. So she told the girl to do her own research and come to her own conclusions. Then she went to her principal and complained. The principal claimed that the woman (who had been coming there many years) had never said things like that before.

    I’m not sure what – if anything – permanent was done about the situation. For all I know, kids in my town (in the “Good Ol’ USA”) are still being told that condoms contain tons of holes that let sperm and viruses through.

  65. Wendy

    How many lives are saved thanks to vaccines? Millions — a hell of a lot more lives than those that are snuffed out after receiving a jab. So, for the sake of argument, even if vaccines *are* responsible for these rare deaths, aren’t they still totally, completely worth it? When given a choice, (how many should die – 20 or 20 million?) I find it hard to believe that *anyone* in their right mind would choose 20 million.

  66. Mike

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8281673.stm

    Dr Caron Grainger, joint director of public health for NHS Coventry and Coventry City Council, said the results of a preliminary post-mortem examination had “revealed a serious underlying medical condition which was likely to have caused death”.

    “We are awaiting further test results which will take some time,” she said. “However indications are that it was most unlikely that the HPV vaccination was the cause of death.”

  67. Andrew

    There would be absolutely no point in trying to debate you Phil. I see you censored my posting yesterday concerning vaccine contents, chinese medicine (not new age, left wing hokum, but acupuncture and herbal medicine has been around for thousands of years) and greedy multi-national drug companies. It really saddened me to find that this posting had been omitted from the comments. Freedom of speech seems to be a thing of the past, if it ever existed at all.

    You should also be ashamed of yourself targetting people like Jenny McCarthy and using them as targets for your sceptical movement. Carl Sagan was a true sceptic and never used people as targets, nor did he dismiss anyone.

    Let me tell you that I actually DO work in the medical profession and have experienced first hand the ill-gotten effects of vaccines. I have myself received the Hep B vaccine because this is a mandatory requirement of all healthcare workers. Let me tell you now that the side effects I experienced from the Hep B vaccine were not pretty – a bright red rash covering my legs, painful joints and generally feeling unwell and unfit for work. Let me also tell you that the second booster Hep B vaccine I recieved had to be delivered in intensive care, as those who were delivering it had warned me that I may go into cardiac arrest upon injection. I had no other choice.

    Additionally, I have also recieved the general flu vaccination this year, as I thought that I would do my bit and help prevent spread and infection in the hospital. I have never been as ill in my life. There hasn’t been a week gone by where I haven’t had either a sore throat, sickness, achy joints or generally feeling unwell. Where as in past years, I have skipped it and never experienced any problems.

  68. anon

    @63, “Do pap smears actually prevent cervical cancer? How do they do this? My understanding (non-expert by any measure) was that they were used to detect early signs.”

    Yes, they do…. Because the early signs that are detected can then be treated BEFORE they become cancerous, or before they become invasive.

    So odd as it seems on first glance to us laymen, pap smears are considered the best way to prevent cervical cancer: cite: 15. Sawaya GF, Brown AD, Washington AE, Garber AM. Current approaches to cervical-cancer screening. N Engl J Med. 2001;344(21):1603-1607.

    I don’t know how discovery feels about a link dump, so I apologize in advance: google for Charlotte Haug at NEJM and at JAMA and the NYTimes and for Marketing HPV Vaccine at jama.

    Or visit:

    http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/359/8/861
    http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/302/7/781
    http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/302/7/795#REF-JED90041-15

  69. anon

    Shamik @ 61, and Wendy @ 65, please assume for a moment that today’s death was due to hypersensitivity to the vaccine. I don’t know what caused it, and I am perfectly willing to wait before blaming it on a vaccine, but let’s just assume it was as you said.

    “I am a medical student and this is literally what we learned about in class today. This sounds like a classic case of hypersensitivity to the vaccine. It wasn’t that the vaccine killed her per se, but rather that she was genetically predisposed to respond adversely to the vaccine. It is very rare and quite tragic, but certainly not a reason (nor should it ever be a reason) to stop vaccination.”

    The girl was killed today. 2009.

    If the vaccine stopped a cancer that would be good. WHEN would that cancer have killed the woman?

    In 2009? In 2019? In 2029? 2039? 2049?

    Cervical cancer takes 20-40 years to develop. Taking vaccines is a risk/benefits tradeoff. Under the assumption the girl died to a hypersensitivity, that girl died today in 2009, not after 10-20-40 year additional lifespan.

    I am not sure how *mandating* a vaccine and killing girls TODAY comports with “first do no harm” in comparison to doing nothing today but investing in additional research and testing to better vaccines and treatments in the future, especially when pap smears are doing a pretty good job today, and when we can assume medical technology will only get better.

  70. anon

    At the risk of spamming, to expand on that last comment of mine, here is Charlotte Haug in JAMA and the NYTimes:

    NY Times:

    “”There are not a huge number of side effects here, that’s fairly certain,” said the editorial writer, Dr. Charlotte Haug, an infectious disease expert from Norway, about the vaccine. ”But you are giving this to perfectly healthy young girls, so even a rare thing may be too much of a risk.

    ”I wouldn’t accept much risk of side effects at all in an 11-year-old girl, because if she gets screened when she’s older, she’ll never get cervical cancer,” Dr. Haug said in an interview. ”You don’t have to die from cervical cancer if you have access to health care.” ”

    JAMA:

    http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/302/7/795#REF-JED90041-15

    “Whether a risk is worth taking depends not only on the absolute risk, but on the relationship between the potential risk and the potential benefit. If the potential benefits are substantial, most individuals would be willing to accept the risks. But the net benefit of the HPV vaccine to a woman is uncertain. Even if persistently infected with HPV, a woman most likely will not develop cancer if she is regularly screened.15 So rationally she should be willing to accept only a small risk of harmful effects from the vaccine.

    When weighing evidence about risks and benefits, it is also appropriate to ask who takes the risk, and who gets the benefit. Patients and the public logically expect that only medical and scientific evidence is put on the balance. If other matters weigh in, such as profit for a company or financial or professional gains for physicians or groups of physicians, the balance is easily skewed. The balance will also tilt if the adverse events are not calculated correctly.

  71. Adam_Y

    @anon
    Actually, your argument is horribly wrong and pretty much invalidates the entire medical establishment. There will always be a random adverse reactions to medication. You really can not get around it. And also your argument actually assumes that pap smears themselves do not have their problems which they do.

  72. Chris

    Andrew, don’t get your panties in a twist. Any message with a URL link is automatically put into moderation. Phil is presently flying to the UK, so he is not available to either read what you wrote, nor to pull your post out of moderation.

  73. Dawn

    @Andrew: you must work in a very strange healthcare facility. I have worked in healthcare – hospitals, birthing centers, outpatient clinics, nursing homes – for over 20 years, and never heard of ANY facility insisting an employee receive a vaccine that has been demonstrated to negatively effect that person.

    @anon: the vaccine is NOT mandated. Girls do not have to get it, at least in the USA. It is recommended but not required. Pap tests are screening tests that can detect abnormal cells but do not diagnosis cancer exactly. And cervical cancer can develop very quickly; some kill within a year or so. Others, it is true, take many years to develop.

  74. @Andrew
    My first response to you was just swallowed by the spam filter. Anyway, maybe you should go back and check comment no. 80 on yesterday’s post before jumping the gun about censorship.

  75. @anon
    Cervical cancer takes 20-40 years to develop
    I suppose that is why they recommend women only have a pap smear every 20 – 40 years.

  76. Bas K

    @anon:

    Quick wiki lookup of the pap smear says:

    ” In taking a Pap smear, a tool is used to gather cells from the outer opening of the cervix (Latin for “neck”) of the uterus and the endocervix. The cells are examined under a microscope to look for abnormalities. The test aims to detect potentially pre-cancerous changes (called cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) or cervical dysplasia), which are usually caused by sexually transmitted human papillomaviruses (HPVs). The test remains an effective, widely used method for early detection of pre-cancer and cervical cancer. The test may also detect infections and abnormalities in the endocervix and endometrium.”

    A pap smear appears to be mostly about detection. Not outright prevention (I’m assuming that would be an entirely different procedure if pre-cancerous cells are detected).

    The gardasil entry contains the following:
    “Gardasil is designed to prevent infection with HPV types 16, 18, 6, and 11. HPV types 16 and 18 that currently cause about 70% of cervical cancer cases,[3][4] and also cause some vulvar, vaginal,[5] penile, anal[6]. HPV types 6 and 11 cause about 90% of genital warts cases.

    Gardasil is only effective in preventing HPV infections, not in treating those already infected by HPV, and so the vaccine must be given before HPV infection occurs in order to be effective. For this reason it is recommended to administer the vaccine before adolescence and the onset of sexual activity.[7]”
    (Cervarix entry says pretty much the same thing)

    It would seem that gardasil/cervarix ARE meant as prevention. Does that mean you shouldn’t go for a pap smear? Probably not.

    But what do I know, I’m no doctor and I only got this stuff off wikipedia.

  77. anon

    Dawn,

    I don’t believe your response is completely accurate.

    The problem is that in many states, there are/were campaigns to mandate the vaccine. And even though that effort failed, there are various groups that still push for mandatory vaccination of gardasil. Texas under Governor Perry started it and it was widely applauded since it was claimed that the only way to make insurance companies pay for it was to mandate it. Googling shows it is mandatory in at least Virginia and DC.

    However, the opt-out procedure is not a universal procedure in all 50 states, and it is not always effective, and it can result in backlash (CPS and/or refusal to use other vaccines on your kids.).

    Opt-out is considered unethical for spam email, why is it considered ethical for vaccinations?

    Even opt-in campaigns are dangerous, if they are coercive, which they can be if there are threats of calls to CPS, or shaming from Phil Plait and others about how only anti-vax nutters would not get it, along with claims that a) oh, it’s perfectly safe, but b) see your doctor, and c) don’t be a nutjob, and d) herd immunity! herd immunity!

    To the extent that the vaccine is available, and opt-in, and the there is good information available about the risks and benefits, and available in non-coercive manners, I have no problem with it.

  78. anon

    Dawn,

    Women in Government, (a national, non-profit, bi-partisan organization of women state legislators ) which at times has taken money from Merck, outlines the status of their campaign, part of which is to make HPV vaccines a school requirement, here: http://www.womeningovernment.org/files/file/prevention/toolkit/LargeActivityMap05-12-08.pdf

    (Merck in the meantime, claims that it no longer wishes to make the vaccine mandatory.)

    I am reasonably in favor of WIG’s moves to make it mandatory that insurance companies pay for HPV vaccines as they have done in Oregon even though it’s not a mandatory school vaccine there. (And that was my stance in 2006 when many people insisted that opt-out campaigns were the only way to get the insurance companies to pay.)

  79. Outraged

    Sick of this Legal Doping resulting in Genocide.. its a huge Plague of the 2000’s… who wins with all this legal doping.. oxycontin, ridalin, vaccines , vaccines, and more vaccines.. for what purpose do those vaccines serve???????????????? Poor girl, my thoughts go out to her family right now, and not to Big Pharma.. I hope they sue.. I really hope they do! I know I would and will if it happens to anyone in my family, and they worry so much about alcohol, and cellphones and of all things… tobacco.. shame on Big Pharma, shame on the Governments.. honestly!

  80. Question: How can two unrelated topics be “first and foremost” in the same discussion?

  81. JustAsItSounds

    Cervical cancer takes 20-40 years to develop? My girlfriend had cervical cancer when she was 18, I guess it must have been developing in utero and possibly in ovo before that.

    Also anon, you claim that Dr. Phil Plait is not qualified to recommend Gardasil vaccination. You’re right, he’s no more qualified than you are qualified to recommend people not to vaccinate.

    However, because no-one can be a world leading expert in every subject I choose to trust those people who are world leading experts in this particular field. This isn’t an argument from authority, it just seems like common sense. Why trust the unqualified opinion of a blog commentor (or even the original poster) when there are people who have actually studied the subject in detail for many years? If there is an overwhelming concensus among those experts then it seems perverse not to trust their judgement.

  82. JoeSmithCA

    Anon,

    You might want to read about the mandates for Virginia and DC. For example here is quote from the Virginia department of health:

    “Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV) – Effective October 1, 2008, a complete series of 3 doses of HPV vaccine is required for females. The first dose shall be administered before the child enters the 6th grade. After reviewing educational materials approved by the Board of Health, the parent or guardian, at the parent’s or guardian’s sole discretion, may elect for the child not to receive the HPV vaccine.”

    As for Texas, in researching the state school board requirements I see no requirements for HPV vaccines but I do see an option to opt out of any vaccination.

    “Exemptions
    The law allows (a) physicians to write a statement stating that the vaccine(s) required is medically contraindicated or poses a significant
    risk to the health and well-being of the child or any member of the child’s household, and (b) parents/guardians to choose an exemption
    from immunization requirements for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief. Schools and child-care facilities should
    maintain an up-to-date list of students with exemptions, so they can be excluded from attending school if an outbreak occurs.
    Instructions for the affidavit to be signed by parents/guardians choosing the exemption for reasons of conscience, including a
    religious belief can be found at http://www.ImmunizeTexas.com.
    For children needing medical exemptions, a written statement by the physician should be submitted to the school or child-care
    facility.”

    Here is one for the District of Columbia:

    Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV) — 3 doses
    • Female students enrolling in 6th grade for the
    first time. A parent may sign the approved
    vaccine refusal form available at
    http://www.doh.dc.gov

    I see no other states requiring Gardasil but as I researched state by state requirements I found an opt out clause for each one. I researched further back and the opt out rules for each state seem to stem much further back than Garadasil.

    Also can you quote where you’ve seen “Oh’ it’s perfectly safe?” about Garadsil?

    In reference to your statement that “See your doctor” is medical advice, does that mean that if I tell my son to “Talk to astronomer” if he has questions about the moon giving out astronomical information? What by the way is the advice that was given in medical terms by going to see your doctor? Are you suggesting it would not be wise to consult an authority in the field of medicine? I’m a computer programmer, should I tell my software support analysts to not have customers contact me for questions regarding coding? I don’t see any possible way that they’ve given any kind of programming assistance in any way or form.

    In reference to “don’t be a nutjob”. Sounds like sound advice to me, but if anyone wishes to be a “nutjob” they are free to excercise that right–just as long as it doesn’t involve loading yourself up with explosives and running into a crowd of people.

    Finally, what is your issue with “herd immunity?” Why do you feel it is bad? How does it pertain to your issue with Garadasil?

  83. @Gordon
    Phil is referring to the tragedy of the girl’s death. What are you talking about?

  84. Tom K.

    @40 anon

    “Have a good day sir, by which I mean, diaf. ”

    Wow, did you really mean that? This is a blog, not a mandate to do things. If everyone acted out what blogs say to do there would be a lot of mayhem in the world.

  85. @Tom K
    Glad you knew what it meant.
    Had to go to the ol’ urban dictionary for that one – diaf: die in a fire.
    Nice.

  86. a lurker

    I wonder how many people will die Saturday after watching college football on TV?

    College football kills.

    /Just did a calculation. There either 876,600 or 876,576 hours in a Century. That is no where near as many people watch college football on TV and I don’t think it is even as many who watch it in the various stadiums every Saturday during the regular season. A century is easily longer than what either the average, median, or mode person can expect to live. Of course the same calculation applies to vaccination. Tens of millions of people are vaccinated every year in the U.S. alone. By the same calculation, it would be shocking if some people did not die immediately even if there was 0% chance of complications.

  87. The AVN found it:

    “They have no idea why this previously healthy girl would die such a short time after getting a Cervarix vaccine, but it wasn’t the vaccine – oh no, that could not be!”

    I guess Meryl’s doubt proves it was the vaccine.

  88. mariana

    @81 JustAsItSounds. I was going to say the same thing to anon (a new reader?). Phil isn’t misusing his credentials or exploiting them. As a scientist he knows that when almost all the experts in a field agree then that usually is a good sign there’s powerful evidence to back things up. It is called trusting the experts because you understand how science works,you understand how experts arrive at a conclusion, and you understand how peer-review process works. It isn’t perfect, but it is better than any alternative to date. Phil is just repeating what the majority of experts say (which is backed up by years of research and practical results…reduction and eradication of common diseases)

    When it comes to areas outside our expertise we all have to trust the experts in that area or risk falling into a conspiracy-style mode of thought. E.g. global warming—They devote years of their lives to studying this area, to testing, to pushing the boundaries forward, to increasing understanding of a very complex system using some very advanced technologies and concepts. Someone without that background is not going to be able to read a few sites over a few months and then proclaim the experts are wrong. The experts are for the most part extremely bright and capable and it is highly highly unlikely you’ll come up with something they haven’t thought about (yes, they’ve checked the sun’s output; yes, they know about the urban heat island effect).

    In the same way I trust the medical establishment. If they say (and by “they” I mean every major medical establishment around the world) the best way to prevent a disease is by a vaccination then I have to believe that because I don’t have the time to devote years of my life to understanding the complex issues like they do. And I certainly won’t trust anyone who contradicts the majority and has no qualifications of their own in which to do so….and even if they did have qualifications, I’d want some seriously good arguments based on verifiable evidence with proper stats (I do stat work) before seriously considering that 98% are wrong and 2% right.

    Phil tells people to check with their doctors. Twice in the last week alone he’s said “Don’t believe me. Talk to your doctor”. He defers to the experts in the field, as he should. So to ask if he’s exploiting his credentials in one field to comment in another field is a complete strawman argument, and one that Anon probably wouldn’t make if he’d read Phil’s posts without an apriori bias.

  89. Oh, and http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/sep/29/cervical-cancer-vaccination-natalie-morton says that the initial postmortem shows that she had some kind of serious, underlying condition, which is tragic, but it happens and refusing the vaccine is not the answer to this possibility.

  90. Perhaps the vaccine didn’t cause her death, but can we really afford to take that chance?

    No, now is the time for panic. This is clearly God’s way of telling us that vaccines and the NHS are the devil, and the only salvation is through abstinence.

    You heard me! I said PANIC!

  91. anon

    Bas K, you’re right, you’re not a doctor. I included a cite above about why pap smears are considered preventative. Sorry this is when you find out the wikipedia is not a great place for medical research. But pap smears allow precancerous lesions to be treated before they become cancerous.

    Tom K, yes, when Charles Boyer calls me a liar, and attacks not a single thing I write, but only attacks me personally, then yes, he can diaf. However, that of course is not a mandate, just a wish or suggestion.

    JustAsItSounds, and Mariana, you are both right. In areas in which our expertise falls short, all we can do is find experts who can be our proxies. I do that in medical areas, and I do that with global warming.

    However, when we do that, we should be particularly careful about how we repeat that information. Probably not as authoritative, and probably refraining from calling people who disagree nutcases.

    He has a Ph.D in Astronomy, he is basically a layman in medicine.

    To the extent that Phil Plait and so many others constantly turn this into a black and white battle of name brand Ph.Ds, and lump all anti vaxers together, he’s not being scientific, he’s not being a good proxy or an accurate purveyor of best scientific knowledge.

    He’s relying on bullying, he’s relying on logical fallacies like appeals to authority, and he’s not relying on scientific or factual claims.

    Look again at this post of his. The girl was given a Cervarix jab. Phil argues for its safety by referring to Gardasil, a completely different drug.

    He is not proxying to others, he is making a completely bogus apples and oranges comparison.

    And he follows that with this smear of anyone who disagrees, and with a claim to moral authority that he is not exploiting this girl and everyone else is.

    “What I do know is that the antivax crowd will go ballistic over this, despite not having enough facts to make a rational conclusion here. But facts are tenuous or malleable things to them, only useful for ignoring or distortion.

    In the comments below I expect we’ll hear a lot of the usual misinformation about toxins and autism and mercury and fetal tissue, long-debunked worries over vaccines. Let’s please remember two things here: one is that we don’t know what happened, and the other is that a young girl has died, and we should all be respectful of that.”

    This is bunk.

    In the meantime, Coast to Coast AM, where Phil appears from time to time is having a completely woo-woo alt-medicine swine flu vaccine is bad show tonight.

  92. asteroidfodder

    Although I agree with the essence of your blog, it does come across as a bit insensitive and strident (yes, both!). There is a nonzero chance that there will be shown to be some causal relationship between the shot and the death. Saying “nyah, nyah, you haven’t proven it” is not helpful.

  93. actually, Cervarix and Gardasil are not “completely different” drugs, they are very similar, in their mechanisms, in their purpose, in their efficacy, and in their testing history. It’s not like he compared Cervarix to Phenfen (sp?), which are completely different drugs.

  94. @anon
    Look again at this post of his. The girl was given a Cervarix jab. Phil argues for its safety by referring to Gardasil, a completely different drug.
    And Phil goes on to say that they are completely different drugs. Quote mine much?

    BTW, 1.4 million doses of Cerverix administered in the UK so far. No other serious complications reported thus far. 1000 women die of cervical cancer in the UK each year.

    Also this is from reuters…
    “The preliminary post mortem results have revealed a serious
    underlying medical condition which was likely to have caused
    death,” said Dr. Caron Grainger, joint director of public health
    in the area where the 14-year-old girl died.

    “We are awaiting further test results which will take some
    time. However indications are that it was most unlikely that the
    HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccination was the cause of death”.

    Oh, and on the DIAF thing. Phil has a commenting policy you should avail yourself of… it’s on the sidebar.

  95. Zyggy

    @ Scibuff – Dude, you just made my day with the link to the DHMO site. That is absolutely hilarious.

    “Research conducted by award-winning U.S. scientist Nathan Zohner concluded that roughly 86 percent of the population supports a ban on dihydrogen monoxide. Although his results are preliminary, Zohner believes people need to pay closer attention to the information presented to them regarding Dihydrogen Monoxide. He adds that if more people knew the truth about DHMO then studies like the one he conducted would not be necessary. “

    Brilliant….just classic.

  96. BBC News site has the story that the girl ‘had a “serious underlying medical condition”, an NHS Trust has said.’ this morning.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8281673.stm

  97. anon

    shane,

    Reading comprehension much?

    Phil says the two vaccines are different and then he goes on to make an argument for the safety of Cervarix while relying on results for Gardasil. That is not quote mining. That is noting an illogical, unscientific, irrational argument. YMMV.

    Good to know there’s a comment policy. It let’s Charles Boyer repeatedly call me a liar and a coward, but I can’t tell him to go jump in a lake? Makes sense!

  98. @anon
    Phil wrote… Third, complications of any kind from vaccinations are incredibly rare. Gardasil, an HPV vaccination (though different than the one the girl in England received), has been given to over 7 million girls, yet there have been only 20 deaths after getting the shot… and for almost all of them there is no obvious relation between the shot and the fatality except for timing. In other words, they were tragic coincidences.

    My comprehension is okay. I’ll paraphrase to make it short.
    Vaccination complications are rare.
    Gardasil is also a HPV vax.
    It is different to Cerverix.
    7 million doses – 20 deaths – no apparent link between shots and death.

    That’s it.

    You said… Phil says the two vaccines are different and then he goes on to make an argument for the safety of Cervarix while relying on results for Gardasil.

    In short I think you’re seeing stuff that isn’t there.

    I will also add…
    Vaccination complications are rare.
    Cerverix is not Gardasil.
    1.4 million doses of Cerverix.
    1 death. Prelim results suggest no link between death and shot.

  99. Chris

    @anon

    “He has a Ph.D in Astronomy, he is basically a layman in medicine.”

    As are you – you admitted it earlier. So why is Phil so bad for providing an opinion on the matter (one which he frequently backs up by linking to expert opinion) when you’re doing the exact same thing here in the comments? As has already been pointed out to you – Phil makes it very clear that the best course of action is to talk to your doctor about the various vaxinations avaialble. It’s irresponsible of him to suggest that we not take his blog entries at face value?

    So what’s with the constant hypocritism? Seriously, what gives? You can’t complain about someone who isn’t a medical expert providing an opinion on the matter only to turn around and do the exact same thing. If you want to provide an alternative opinion, sure, go for it. But please drop the hypocritical melodrama.

  100. anon

    Chris,

    I think I’ve made it clear what the difference is. Let’s try again. Phil has a big enormous soapbox called Discovery’s Bad Astronomy Blog. He is a relatively well known pundit. As other’s have pointed out, we all can’t know everything about everything, we have to use proxies. Philip is a proxy for many people.

    So when Philip uses poor scientific arguments (Cervarix is not Gardasil, Gardasil safety means nothing relative to Cervarix safety), and he uses shaming arguments (antivaxxers are nutjobs and will lie to you) and he does this while standing on his big enormous soapbox he does give people the impression that he says this stuff with scientific authority.

    But to the best of my knowledge, he is a layman, and at least wrt Gardasil, relatively poorly informed.

    If he wants to say, “as a layman I spoke with my kids’ doc and we’re getting gardasil” that’s one thing, and he’s pretty much said that. But he goes further and talks about the anti-vax nutjobs and how they lie. He’s not actually qualified to do that. And he should do that from his soapbox with respect and deference once he steps outside his field of authority.

    A day or two ago, Phil wrote about the snake oil pedaled at Huffington Post. Tonight, Coast to Coast AM has four solid hours of anti-swine flu vaccine nonsense. Philip, AFAIK, still appears on Coast to Coast AM. In doing so, he again lends his title of the Bad Astronomer and Discovery Blogger, and Ph.D to Coast to Coast AM as they pedal all sorts of homeopathic cures and worse.

    I don’t know why this girl died. I think the respectful act for Phil and myself was to wish her family the best and urge the UK NHS to act swiftly to get to the bottom of it, regardless of where that was. I think it was disrespectful and exploitive for Phil to use the post as a way to drag in the anti-vaxxers for something they hadn’t done yet. Especially given his performances on Coast to Coast AM where many of those anti-vaxxers hang out.

    I have no understanding why you think that is hypocritical of *me*.

    HTH.

  101. Lawrence

    95. anon – except that, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, the anti-vaxxers continue to “lie” or misrepresent the facts regarding the safety or side-effects of vaccines to promote one cause – their own.

    Phil, on the other hand (and a good group of commentors on this blog) continue to point to the data, the evidence, and the experts – as to why, overall, vaccines are an overwhelmingly positive aspect of modern medicine.

    Now, that doesn’t mean that everything is black and white (though for the anti-vaxxers, it certainly seems that it is) – scientific opinions have changed, been improved and as new information is available, it is evaluated and presented in a fair and peer-reviewed manner.
    We only really seem to get upset here, when people continue to repeat the some old, discredited and downright false arguments – when the facts don’t back them up.

  102. Chris

    @anon #95

    “Let’s try again.”

    Yes, shall we?

    “…Cervarix is not Gardasil…”

    Which Phil specifically pointed out.

    “…Gardasil safety means nothing relative to Cervarix safety…”

    Which is something Phil never claimed. He pointed out that they’re different. He pointed out that, in general, complications relating to vaccinations are quite rare. He used Gardasil as an example of this. But notice that at no point did he say “Gardasil has a good track record, therefore Cervarix is just as safe” or any variation thereof. When reading the article for the first time, I noticed the differene, saw the relevance to discussing Gardasil as an aside, but didn’t make assumptions about Cervarix – especially after Phil laboured the point that we just don’t yet know what caused this girls death. Why did you make this assumption? Why are you going out of your way to imply that Phil is saying things that didn’t say?

    “…and he uses shaming arguments (antivaxxers are nutjobs and will lie to you)…”

    What commennter #96 (Lawrence) said.

    “…he does give people the impression that he says this stuff with scientific authority.”

    Again, Phil’s suggesting that people should consult with their doctors is equavalent an impression that he is a scientific authority on the subject? *rolls eyes*

    “But he goes further and talks about the anti-vax nutjobs and how they lie. He’s not actually qualified to do that.”

    I didn’t realise one needed to be qualified in order to provide an opinion about a subject or a person’s/group’s actions. Oh wait – aren’t you also providing an opinion about the subject whilst also not being qualified?

    And again, I will point out that Phil suggests that parents talk to their doctors about these issues before action. Seriously, this is an important point, stop trying to brush past it. Phil knows he isn’t a medical expert. He advocates parents finding the facts for themselves. I really don’t see what issue you have with someone who is essentially saying “here is what I think – make sure you consult an expert before you act on it yourself”.

    “A day or two ago, Phil wrote about the snake oil pedaled at Huffington Post. Tonight, Coast to Coast AM has four solid hours of anti-swine flu vaccine nonsense…”

    You might have a point with regards to this aside (though I’d also like to hear Phil’s take on it before I make any firm judgement) … though it is essentially irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

    “I have no understanding why you think that is hypocritical of *me*.”

    Really? To a large extent, this new post of yours has just confirmed my previous opinion of you.

  103. Dawn

    @Anon #78: Can you send the link where you found that Gardasil is a required vaccine in the Commonwealth of Virginia? I looked at several official government sites and didn’t see anything about it. Even the forms for students entering Virginia universities don’t have it listed.

    As for the anti-vax people: yes, they do lie. They claim hundreds of deaths have been linked to Gardasil. According to all the official sites I checked, while deaths have been reported after the injection, NONE have been, thus far, directly linked to the injection. That does not mean none have been caused by the injection. Considering any medical treatment has the risk of death, I would be shocked if none had ever occurred.

  104. Johnny

    It’s very likely the vaccine was the trigger that led her to her death. I know someone personally who’s had severe reactions to 2 types of vaccines – here’s why:

    http://mpkb.mp-dev.com/doku.php/home:special:vaccines_and_shots#evidence_against_vaccine_involvement_in_chronic_disease

    I find it very odd that there are stories suggesting the girl had an underlying condition, yet those are the very people who are supposedly being recommended to have the shot first. Bad advice.

  105. @anon

    But he goes further and talks about the anti-vax nutjobs and how they lie. He’s not actually qualified to do that.

    Out of curiosity, what qualifications does a person need to be able to talk about how anti-vaxers are nutjobs and they lie? Is there a particular degree program required?

    Oh, and to prove Phil’s point about how anti-vaxers will jump on this and blame the vaccine before all the facts are known, see the link about Meryl Dorey left in comment 86 by Andy D.

  106. @Andrew,

    I’ll see your anecdote and raise you mine. I work in a health care setting too. The Flu Vaccine and H1N1 are being mandated here. If you don’t get it, you can lose your job. (State law, not our facility’s own policy.) However, there are valid reasons for not getting the flu shot. If you have an egg allergy, for example, getting the flu shot can be dangerous. They don’t want people choosing between their lives or their jobs, so there’s an opt-out procedure. You fill out a form stating the reason why you cannot take the flu vaccine. If it is approved (and it likely would be given a valid medical reason and not just a “Don’t feel like it” or “I rely on woo-water”), then you’ll be exempt. If your facility is requiring vaccines of people who get adverse reactions to the vaccines, then your facility needs to seriously rethink its policies.

    @shane,

    Don’t worry. If the girl’s death is proven to be unrelated to the vaccine jab, the anti-vax crowd will just claim that Big Pharma is working with the government to cover up the “obvious fact” that they are related. Then they’ll keep on using her death as an example of the “dangers” of vaccinations. After all, any proof supporting their theory is true and anything conflicting with it is planted by Big Pharma.

  107. Steve in Dublin

    Even if it is proven (as definitively as anything can be proven in the medical realm, anyway, which is almost never 100%) by post mortem that the cause of death of this poor girl couldn’t be linked to the Cervarix vaccine, that’s not going to stop the anti-vaxxers from having a field day with this one. They’ll just say the results of the post mortem were fudged. Ya know, it’s all part of the ‘conspiracy’, with the pathologist being in cahoots with Big Pharma :-(

    Oops. I see that TechyDad just said essentially the same thing. Great minds and all that…

  108. James

    @ Tim (#39)

    The trouble is that this is always the case – one girls gets ill and later dies and suddenly all of her friends and school peers start to feel poorly.

    The stats on the BBC page on this story point out that of the tiny percentage of side-effects of the drug in question most are things like headaches, sore arms etc. but they still count. Taking a completely unscientific view and discounting the majority of these on the basis of people following the herd and the overall reaction rate is a fraction of minuscule!

    If one person in a million was *guaranteed* to die after being given this vaccine I wonder if that would change anything in context of the risk of not taking it…

  109. Robert Brown: No!

    Correlation does not equal causation. One could argue that it *implies* it, but implication is just that: a hint. And you utterly neglect an obvious, important fourth option: the correlation is spurious and there is NO connection between A and B. There are lots of cases of this: dust storms on Mars were, at least for quite a while, correlated to certain American sports outcomes. Number of pirates correlates (inversely) to global warming. And so forth. In this case, everyone who dies does shortly after some set of events. Most of those events are not responsible for their deaths. There’s correlation there, but no causation.

  110. Pieter Kok

    anon, your concern is noted.

  111. Wayward son

    “HPV vaccine not likely cause of girl’s death”

    http://www.healthzone.ca/health/newsfeatures/article/703174

    Of course it is too early to know for sure, but I thank the Toronto Star for responsible reporting.

  112. Tsu Dho Nimh

    @19 – A Pap smear does NOT prevent cervical cancer. It may detect it early enough to save your life, but it has no cancer=preventive powers. The HPV vaccines, on the other hand, prevent infection with a known cause of cancer … that’s preventive.

  113. @Johnny

    I took a look at the link you provided and had to comment on one thing that jumped out at me:

    adults do not usually need the pertussis protection.

    That is utter bollocks. Pertussis is a disease for which immunity is lost over time, whether the person was infected naturally or they were vaccinated. Therefore, they should be getting boosters to protect them from infection. It may tend to be milder in adults than in children, but because of that, it is much easier for an adult to go spreading it around.

    The linked page also fails to point out that the 1976 GBS scare was found to have a GBS rate approximately the same as the normal occurrence of GBS in general.

    Re: the simian virus 40 contamination, that occurred several decades ago. As soon as it was discovered, steps were put into place to screen for and prevent such contamination. The linked page fails to note this.

    I don’t have time at the moment to examine some of the other stuff on that site, but the bits that jumped out at me don’t give me much hope for their other claims to be accurately represented.

  114. mariana

    Actually I do see Anon’s point about Phil talking about the safety rates of a different vaccine than the one used in England. It could be misleading. I don’t think it is myself, but I can see how it could be. Doesn’t Orac sometimes point this tactic out in some of his debunking articles?

    On the other hand Phil has all the necessary expertise to know if he’s dealing with a nutjob and/or liar. Most of us here do, I say. You don’t need to be an expert in medicine or climate to recognize things like quote-mining, claiming authors support your cause when they actually support just the opposite if you check, cherry-picking your data, fallacy of the single cause, and many other logical fallacies.

    You also don’t need to be an expert to recognize when someone misuses or lies about something you do know about. For example…

    …without knowing very much at all about rocket science I recognized the moon hoaxers weren’t very credible when I read their arguments based on some of the photographs and shadows (which I do know a bit about as I’m an amateur shutterbug).

    …without knowing that much about medicine I recognized that antivaxxers weren’t very credible when they tried to show increasing rates of autism vs MMR vaccines ([mis]using stats which I do know a bit about as I use them in my work). That and some of their data wasn’t possible to have gathered in the first place–that is, they made the numbers up. A quick check with Mayo and WHO confirmed that strong suspicion.

    So Phil is completely qualified to talk about nutjobs and how they lie because some of their lies are blatant, some of their conclusions from their own data are ludicrious and unwarranted, and other arguments defy logic and knowledge when they intersect with some small area with which we also are familiar with.

    I just noticed Todd (@99) summed up my thoughts much more precisely.

  115. JoeSmithCA

    @Dawn (Post #105)
    I’m not keen on supporting anon, but the information he failed to cite or provide is here:

    http://www.vdh.state.va.us/epidemiology/immunization/requirements.htm

    What anon did not state nor argue against nor provide any proof of is that NO state in the United States of America can force a person to take a vaccine (unless martial law is declared).

    I think what he’s upset about is that a non-doctor with a blog site can express his opinion on vaccines when the site is mainly about astronomy. Oddly enough I’ve seen other blogs do the same. It’s amazing, I’ve heard its called having an opinion.

    @Anon
    You face a tough crowd here. Provide some hard facts, state your evidence clearly and cite your references and above all don’t stoop to petty personal attacks even if attacked yourself. The strength of your arguements are weakened enormously if you do–no matter how right believe you are or wrong you believe someone else is.

  116. Gary Ansorge

    “Before you can get to heaven, you first have to go thru hell and see thru the Great Liars BS,,,”

    Phil is not a liar. He’s a truther(???) and he rightfully recommends people check with appropriate experts before making decisions. As a responsible scientist, it is in his purview to offer his OPINION about anti-rationalists, whatever their inclination. In fact, as a compassionate, rational human, it is his RESPONSIBILITY to make recommendations pertinent to furthering analytical thought.

    He does a better job of that than most.

    I love when opinionated people post under the name ANON. The only valid reason for using such an acronym is if you’re living in a totalitarian state. ANON! Is that YOUR problem?

    I live alone, rarely interact with other people, have an immune system that kept me relatively disease free for the last 66 years and enabled my survival despite being infected(most likely thru a tainted blood transfusion) with plasmodium fulciparum(malaria) at age 5. I’ve had all the most common vaccines, though it has been several years since they were updated. Why? Mainly financial reasons and because I’m lazy. I’ve never had a flu vaccine, but I have had mild flu symptoms once every ten years or so however, those were “ordinary” flu, meaning, not particularly life threatening. Since H1N1 tends to cause pulmonary collapse, as soon as the H1N1 vaccine becomes available in Georgia, I WILL partake, even though with my low exposure to the local human population, I’m at very low risk. Since I am the only resource I can call upon for assistance, it makes sense to avoid a catastrophic illness. I expect my dogs will appreciate that since they would have no one around to feed or water them if I was in the hospital.

    For the parents of that(HPV innoculated) child, my regards. You were doing the right thing, despite the tragic outcome.

    As far as lethal responses to H1N1 are concerned, WHO has stated there are strains of H1N1 resistant to Tamiflu, so expecting that drug to compensate for a lack of immunization is probably not a good idea. Of course, the death rate is ONLY around 1% (vs about .06% to .24% for regular flu).
    “Cases of A(H1N1) that were resistant to the anti-viral medicine have now been found in the United States, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong and Japan.”

    Gary 7

  117. garygnu

    I’m pro-vaccine, but I really do wish Phil wouldn’t spend so much of this blog about it. Unfortunately, there is a need to counter the stupidity of blind anti-vax fools. Couldn’t there be a sister blog or something?

  118. fred edison

    Of course you can’t pin this on vaccinations without more evidence and information. But as I had suspected would happen the instant vaccines & a death were in the same news story, Noory jumped head-first into the vaccine blame game on last night’s show. He remains “neutral” because he doesn’t say do or don’t get a shot, while he has two or three anti-vaxxers in tandem rambling on and telling us the same lies and distortions about vaccines that we’ve heard a million times before. Listening to them fear monger almost made me sick with disgust. (I was just reading in the newspaper that pregnant women account for 1% of the population with H1N1, but that 1% of the population accounts for 6% of the deaths from the virus.) With no coincidence and planned ignorance, there was a noticeable absence of any counter viewpoint to bring balance and sanity back to the anti-vax discussion. A “Len Horowitz” talking on the show was practically hysterical, saying that no one (yes, no one) should be vaccinated, ever. Look up DrLenHorowitz on YouTube if you want to see what these people are about. Bring your tin foil cap and conspiracy handbook, as well.

  119. Dawn

    @ Todd W: don’t bother any more with Johnny’s link unless you want to know more quackery. If you notice, below the title, the site deals with the Marshall Protocol, a quack treatment of avoiding all sunlight and changing any light bulbs in your house to the “approved” type (to decrease vitamin D in the body), diet, and prolonged doses of antibiotics to cure all sorts of autoimmune diseases. I did a lot of research on it 5 years ago when I was researching treatments for Lyme disease. It’s another treatment that (at least at the time, and I haven’t done much research on it since) has a lot of testimonials and no controlled studies. I refused to try it or condone its use in my family.

  120. @Dawn

    Yeah, something niggled at my brain when I saw “Marshall Protocol”. I’m not familiar with it, but, decrease vitamin D? Overuse of antibiotics for non-bacterial diseases? WTF is that guy on?

  121. John

    The girl had a “serious underlying medical condition.”

    Exactly the same words used to report nearly all of the swine flu deaths in this country (UK)

    So which is BS then, the dangers of hpv or swine flu?

    My money’s on both……

  122. Lawrence

    120. John – yes, because people who are already very sick or have compromised immune systems, plus H1N1 can and do die – they also die of a host of other opportunistic infections as well.

  123. Dawn

    @ Todd W: I don’t know if I can explain (and may not be remembering clearly), but the MP (as it’s adherents call it) seems to believe that all sorts of bacteria need Vitamen D to survive in your cells, and if you decrease the D in your body the bacteria will come out of the cells so the antibiotics can kill them. Herxheimer reactions are all wonderful because they prove the antibiotics are working. There are several levels of the MP, but I only got to read the first level of treatment because I refused to start the protocol and the newsgroups were given access based on your level of treatment.

    As to WTF is the guy on…well, there were some hefty charges back then for Prof Marshall (not an MD, he’s a Ph.D of some type) to mail/email the protocol to your local MP approved provider. Follow the money….

  124. Calli Arcale

    John:

    The girl had a “serious underlying medical condition.”

    Exactly the same words used to report nearly all of the swine flu deaths in this country (UK)

    So which is BS then, the dangers of hpv or swine flu?

    My money’s on both……

    You’re assuming that both statements are comparable. They’re not.

    Preliminary autopsy reports suggest that this girl’s death is entirely coincidental — that the Cervarix shot had nothing to do with it, and she likely would have died at the same time regardless. Obviously it’s tough to judge that claim without knowing the autopsy results, but that’s what the coroner is saying right now. The coroner presently thinks the vaccine had nothing at all to do with it, and is likely waiting on toxicology results to be able to make a definitive statement on the cause of death.

    In the case of novel H1N1, however, the people would not have died if they had not contracted influenza (or, would have died of something else at a different time, like being hit by a bus as they crossed the street). Their underlying conditions made it impossible for their bodies to effectively fight the virus, and made the symptoms of influenza much worse — and, indeed, ultimately fatal. That’s a different kettle of fish entirely.

    It *is* true that there is too much panic about this H1N1 pandemic, just as there was too much panic about “bird flu” a few years ago. People are avoiding pork products, for pete’s sake! But that’s not to say it can safely be ignored. The CDC is watching closely, because though this isn’t the killer than the Spanish Flu was, it’s still more deadly than influenza usually is, and it’s much more easily transmitted. If it mutates into a more deadly variant while retaining its ability to spread, it could kill millions. So it’s good to have plans in place for what to do in that event, and it’s good for various entities (both government and private) to keep a careful eye on the situation so they can sound the alarm if things get bad. Devising a vaccine is also a good idea, because it may help get an immunological jump on the virus before it has a chance to become more deadly. This is not time to panic about H1N1. But it is a good time to keep one’s eyes open.

  125. Gary Ansorge

    123. Calli Arcale

    The WHO is estimating H1N1 world wide could reasonably infect 15 to 45 % of the population, with a mid range projection of around 2 billion people. With a death rate of 1% , that could kill 20 million people. If those are, as has been assumed, the younger, more productive members of society, that would place a big strain on world productivity, with financial losses approaching tens of billions and that’s not even counting the cost of treatment of all those sick people who die or those who get sick and recover. This has the POTENTIAL to be a really bad event but hopefully we can stop it before it spreads that far by being immunized. You’ll note I make no mention of the HUMAN cost. Emotional pain is not quantifiable(but it is very real).

    GAry 7

  126. Selasphorus

    What a story to read the day I get my second jab in the HPV series! But cool heads prevail and I’m continuing the series.

  127. JoeSmithCA

    Gary Ansorge (Post 125)
    Well, at least Bill Gates will be spared because if you haven’t heard, he’s going to save the world by pumping salt water mist creating increased coastal fog/clouds. Everyone will thank Bill for Microsoft Vista and Really hot, foggy weather.

  128. Craig Edgar

    She had a rare medical condition and could have died at any time, the vaccine was a coincidence.

  129. SkepTTic

    Chris beat me to it. An undetected tumor that could have caused death at any time. Doesn’t change the tragedy for her family and friends, but at least we know the truth.
    The debate is done, for this case.

  130. SkepTTic,

    The debate is done for rational and intelligent people. Not for the anti-vax pro-disease crowd. They are anything but rational!

  131. Tim

    Hi All,

    In Britain there are many people who describe the Daily Mail as a Comic. It’s fitting too as it sells papers on hysterical headlines, usually about immigration. This time though they have sensationalised the death of a girl and are playing on the fears (whether justified or not) of parents.

    Disgusting, really. And wholly without substance. The girl is understood to have died of causes unrelated to the vaccine. I think what worries most people here though is why we use a different vaccine to the rest of the world. It seems we get the cheaper one, which given that we have a ‘free at the point of need’ health care system is almost understandable, but I’m sure we’d all prefer the best vaccine over the cheapest one – especially as both are reported as completely safe. Perhaps our media might concentrate on helping us out with that information rather than perpetuate unnecessary fears.

  132. Y’know, I’m amazed. I searched for this news on Age of Autism. Nothing. Vaccine Awakenings. Nothing. NVIC. Nothing. Natural News. Nothing.

    It appears only Meryl Dorey of the anti-vaccine organization Australian Vaccination Network was stupid enough to blame the vaccine before the facts were known. I left a comment on her article. Let’s see if it gets through moderation.

  133. Mark the Sundog

    Late to the discussion, as usual, but I wanted to make a simple point to Mr Angelo, as I did to Radio 2 when the HPV vaccine discussion there wandered the same way. Attempting to argue the benefits to rape victims, unlucky virgin brides or anything else dignifies the antivax position to a degree it does not deserve.

    I’m a simple man at heart, so I’ll put this as simply as I can:

    I don’t give a monkey’s cuss whether someone is a blushing maiden or the original “good time had by all”, ENJOYING THEIR SEXUALITY DOES NOT DESERVE A HORRIBLE DEATH. NOT EVER.

    Easy as. End of. Peace.

  134. fred edison

    @John #120
    Most people would wait for evidence before reaching a conclusion. It appears you may have reached a conclusion before waiting for the evidence. And you’ve done it again even after the evidence has indicated her tragic death was coincidental with her being administered a vaccine a few hours earlier. Coincidences happen all of the time and are an integral part of our daily lives, but people like/want to form connections where there are none, and on those false connections they reach inaccurate and faulty conclusions. It’s both a benefit and detriment of human nature and how our brains work. The detrimental part of this is what the anti-vaxxer movement depends and thrives upon, coincidence and the false connections that lead them to spread misinformation and harmful health advice to the public.

    @123 Calli
    Exactly. I wish people would wise up and stop calling H1N1 a normal flu. It’s not a normal flu. It’s an unusual strain of influenza that everyone needs to pay attention to, and make their best effort to minimize their own chance of infection and halt the infection of others around them. Don’t worry yourself sick with panic, but don’t completely ignore what’s happening with the virus. Forewarned is forearmed.

    @131 Todd W.
    Good move. I’ve demanded a retraction of the misinformation and fear mongering from the guy I was talking about in an earlier post. I am doubtful the word “integrity” is in his or Dorey’s personal dictionaries. Nonetheless, there are times we need to hold a mirror up to these people. We can only hope they won’t like the image they see.

  135. @Todd
    No comments from any Todds that I could see on Meryl Dorey’s blog but her latest post has this:

    “Our buddies from the scumbags organisation (well, if Paul Keating can say it, I can too!) have been emailing me all morning to demand that I take down the article I posted a couple of days ago in which I stated that I didn’t believe that Natalie’s death was coincidental to the Cervarix vaccine.
    I won’t do that. Because I still don’t believe in coincidence. Not when it comes to vaccines.

    The woman is a piece of… work.

  136. @shane

    I just posted anonymously, but yeah, my note did not make it past moderation. I did, however, note that someone’s comment made it through on the post you quoted from, pointing out the error of Meryl Dorey’s claims.

  137. I wonder how long until the anti-vax crowd tries to claim that the vaccine caused the tumor? Sure, it’s medically impossible, but they’re so invested in the “vaccines are deadly” mindset that they have to twist all evidence against them into evidence supporting their view. It’s either that or admit they are wrong and we all know that won’t happen.

  138. I spoke too soon. Natural News is spewing conspiracy theories, like Meryl Dorey did, saying that the tumor is a false story to cover up the “reality” that the vaccine was to blame. Orac has more.

    Perhaps there should be psychological tests before people are allowed to start up blogs to make sure they aren’t paranoid schizophrenics…

  139. TheBlackCat

    @ Todd: So they wait until after the link to vaccines has been disproven before claiming there is a link. Figures…

  140. @Todd,

    I decided to read the Natural news article. Wow. Their reasoning basically goes like this: Since we *know* that vaccines did it, any proof to the contrary is conspiracy and we’ll back it up using our rudimentary general medical knowledge even though we have no first hand knowledge of the case.

    Oh and everyone has malignant cancerous micro-tumors in their body right now? I’m sure that would be news to doctors.

  141. @TheBlackCat

    Hey, I didn’t say they were logical. But yeah, TechyDad has the reasoning about right.

    If the evidence supports our a priori conclusion, then the evidence is good and valid.
    If the evidence does not support our a priori conclusion, then it’s all part of a conspiracy to cover up “The Truth”TM.

    The ol’ “Heads I’m right, tails you’re wrong” school of argumentation.

  142. penelope langille

    malignant tumor kills girl after flu shot?
    sounds fishy to me!

  143. Jim

    What an irrespomsible article. “7 million jabs and only 20 deaths” oh, and they were unrelated. Take 7 million healthy teenagers and determine how many of them die within 48 hours of nothing. It will be far less than 20. Now 20 is only the ones that died within 48 hours as required to be counted by the drug companies. Any longer and you don’t count. 20 deaths is only the beginning, thousands of others suffer severe and permanent disabilities from Gardasil. If you don’t believe me go look it up for yourself. Even the CDC published data recognizes that thousands suffered fro m the jab. Now factor in the fact that 93% of women that get HPV do so after the age of 40, and 75% after the age of 50. Then factor in that of the very, very few young girls that do get HPV, a small fraction of them will get cervical cancer. Most of them will fight of the virus naturally, especially if their immune systems have not been compromised by other unnecesary vaccinations from birth. The plain and simple fact is these girls are much better off facing the odds without the vaccine jab. This is not even questionable once you study the data. Shame on all those medical doctors who maintain the hoax just to avoid rocking the boat or to make a few extra dollars. When I lived in the UK (I am an American) my GP admitted to me he received a bonus of around 5000 British Pounds each year if he could maintain a 90% vaccination rate in his surgery (practice). Do you think he has an open mind?

  144. Tom

    i am a anti-vaxxer myself. i will not take the flu vaccine, but I do respect the choice if another wants to take it! What my concern is, is this, I work in a hospital, and I am being told I MUST take the vaccine or lose my job. My fight is not to do away with the vaccine, just let me have my damn choice, rather i want it or not! And as far as did the vaccine cause this little girls death? Possibly! If it did, it IS statistically important to her family! If it didn’t, it is also statistically important. There is absolutely no question in my mind that the major drug companies have a goal in mind, and that goal is to make money, and they don’t care one bit if someone gets hurt while they are making their money, thus, they have billions of dollars set aside in their budget for lawsuits, because they KNOW they will be sued!

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