Damage done

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.

10 thoughts on “Damage done

  1. Tsk, you would make a terrible journalist in today’s world. So worried about being responsible and giving people the facts instead of sensationalist half truths.
    .-= Goblin´s last blog ..The earth moved =-.

  2. The ugly reality of insatiable 24 hour news TV – sounds like a good idea, but the price seems to be, as you point out, the truth is all too often missed in the rush to air.

  3. Sigh, yes this was all over the newspapers and my immediate “consumer” reaction was EEEP, how could a HPV vaccine kill someone?!

    But now there will be thousands of people that won’t get the vaccine, because they are scared of it.
    .-= Po´s last blog ..Insane in the membrane =-.

  4. Should I organise you a subscription to the Daily Mail, or are you happy getting your shock-horror-scandal online? 😉

  5. unfortunately there is already eveidence that the uptake rate for the vacine will be hit. Shades of the MMR unfounded panic. wht was said in the Uk before today’s news was that urgent steps were being takedn to see if there was a link but it was thought that this was extremely unlikely. Still not enough for the worrying classes to get in to full swing.

  6. are you denying there is a high incedence of GBS ?? and that this is sometimes fatal …. now is it not irresponsible to give a terminally ill child a shot that will cause fainting and have the doctors misdiagnose her and her die … she died after getting the shot end of story.

  7. Goblin > I would make a terribly unpopular journalist. Agreed.

    Rob > 9/11, Sky News, Kay Burley: “The entire Eastern Seaboard of the United States has been devastated by a terrorist attack.” Awesome.

    Po > Correct. But who in Sky News or The Times (and, I’m sure, may others) actually thinks that way?

    Ro > I’m blissfully unhappy with getting my shock-hooror-skandaal[ sic] online, thanks.

    HH > Education is the key to all these things. But some people just don’t want to learn. Or they want to learn the wrong thing.

    D > Wakefield’s Lancet jaunt was a watershed for publishing in peer-reviewed journals. That he could have take everyone (including one of the biggest medical journals) for a ride was incredible. His legacy lives on: Gauteng measles outbreak – current He should be sued for hundreds, if not thousands of deaths.

    Stan > Which is why you come here to read better quality nonsense?

    Gregory > Where to begin?
    1. No, there is not a higher incidence of GBS associated with HPV vaccine. Link:

    Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) has been reported after vaccination with Gardasil. GBS is a rare disorder that causes muscle weakness. It occurs in 1-2 out of every 100,000 people in their teens. A number of infections can cause GBS. There has been no indication that Gardasil increases the rate of GBS in girls and women above the rate expected in the general population, whether or not they were vaccinated.

    I know this incident was with Cervarix, not Gardasil, but the differences between the two vaccines are cosmetic.

    2. As an aside, cervical cancer is also (usually) fatal. In far more cases than GBS.

    3. It is not irresponsible to give terminally ill child a shot, especially if you are unaware that she is terminally ill. Nor was she, at any stage, misdiagnosed by doctors – only by the media.

    4. Nearly right, but I’ll add one small correction:

    “She died of a malignant thoraic tumour after getting the shot end of story.”

    She also probably had Weetabix for breakfast that morning and walked past a bakery on the way to school. Why aren’t you (or the media) blaming them?

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