HPV Vaccine Controversy: Is Katie Couric The New Jenny McCarthy?

Has another high-profile celebrity caused unwarranted panic for millions of parents?

When it comes to the HPV vaccine, there is no controversy — at least, not when it comes to the injection’s safety. And yet, Katie Couric showcased “both sides” of the “HPV vaccine controversy” during her daytime talk show, Katie, which aired on December 4.

The 30 minute feature, which the program called their “Big Conversation,” centered around two mothers who believe the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) harmed their daughters.

A heartbroken Emily Tarsell – a mother who claims her daughter Christina’s death was caused by the HPV vaccine Gardasil in 2008 – speaks on the topic. And mother-daughter duo, Rosemary and Lauren Mathis, believe Lauren developed a strange illness characterized by nausea and fatigue because of the vaccine. This distraught mother is now the director of the anti-HPV organization, SaneVax Inc.

But according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no scientific evidence that the HPV vaccine causes adverse effects beyond normal vaccine side effects, such as dizziness, nausea, and pain and redness at the injection site.

From June 2006 to March 2013, over 57 million doses of HPV vaccines were distributed. In that period, approximately 22,000 adverse events were reported in girls and women who had received HPV vaccines, and 92% of those were classified as nonserious.

On the other hand, the risks of HPV are very serious.

Every year, approximately 12,000 U.S. women get cervical cancer, and HPV is the leading cause. HPV can also cause other cancers like vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, and neck and throat cancers, which is why the CDC recommends the vaccine for girls and boys ages 11 or 12 — before most adolescents become sexually active. CDC data states that roughly 79 million Americans have HPV and about 14 million people become infected each year. The HPV vaccine can prevent many these infections, and thus millions of potential cases of cancer.

“This kind of coverage is so incredibly irresponsible,” says Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy. “The danger of saying we are going to present both sides of an issue, when all of the facts line up on one side, is that as far as the audience is concerned, you are giving these sides equal weight. It presents a false impression that there is a legitimate debate here.”

This misinformed ‘debate’ leads us to ask: Is Katie the new Jenny McCarthy?

The former Playboy Playmate has been very public about her belief that vaccines play a role in causing autism, even though the link between the two has been debunked time and again.

Jenny has said that vaccinations “stole” her child and caused his autism.

“Before the vaccination, he was huggy, lovey, snuggly,” Jenny said. “Then it was like someone came down and stole him.”

Jenny told Celebrity Baby Scoop that her unofficial role as the celebrity spokesperson on the topic is nothing short of a blessing.

“Anytime you can do something that serves the greater good and make a difference, you should act,” the mom-of-one said. “So, what I thought was a hardship in my life, I now see as a blessing because I can reach so many people.”

Jenny’s son Evan, now 11, was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 ½-years-old. The single mom has publicly spoken about a link between childhood vaccinations and autism. She is also well-known for saying that children can “recover” from autism.

What do you think? Is Katie causing unwarranted panic about the HPV Vaccine?

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