So Sky News now tell us that 14-year old Natalie Morton died as a result of a “malignant tumour in her chest which affected her heart and lungs” and that her death was “nothing to do with the vaccine that she had at school”.
This report is in stark contrast to their previous report which contained the unattributed quote that the schoolgirl had suffered a “rare but extreme reaction” to the vaccination that she had received earlier that day. The Times in SA even went as far as reporting that she had “died on Monday after an adverse reaction to the Cervarix vaccine”.
Quite who gave them this information is unclear.
What is clear is that it was completely incorrect: “the inquest heard the tumour was so severe, Natalie could have died at any time.”
But it was still published.
In incorrectly linking the HPV vaccine to Natalie Morton’s death for the sake of making a big story out of something that actually wasn’t, news organisations have done untold damage. Much like the Andrew Wakefield MMR/Autism debacle, this story will have a detrimental effect on the uptake of the HPV vaccine.
And lower uptake means more HPV and more HPV means more cases of cervical cancer. Nice.
The mainstream media has a obligation to provide accurate news to it’s readers/viewers/listeners. And while some stories may be open to subjectivity and differences in opinion, this isn’t one of them.
Simply, Natalie Morton did not die because of an adverse reaction to the Cervarix vaccine.
This is poor, irresponsible and dangerous journalism.
EDIT: Please also see this.