Vaccine disinformation: Katie Couric on HPV and Jenny McCarthy on autism

Taking advice from of celebrities may be detrimental to one’s health. Photo: Katie Couric (AP)

WASHINGTON, December 5, 2013 — Yesterday, Katie Couric aired a show titled the “Big Conversation” which devoted almost 30 minutes to the possibility that human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccinations may be causing deaths to recipients of the vaccine.  

To illustrate the so-called “controversy,” Couric interviewed Rosemary Mathis, director of the anti-HPV organization SaneVax, Inc. and Emily Tarsell, both mothers who claim the HPV vaccine took their daughters lives.


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To bolster Couric’s journalistic angle, Couric also trotted out Dr. Diane Harper, known as a lead researcher in the development of Gardasil and Cervarix, the two drugs approved as HPV vaccines.  Harper, who once supported the use of HPV vaccines, has now done a 180 and has publically taken on an anti-vaccine position.

In the 4th International Conference on Vaccination in Reston, Va. this year, Harper was a keynote speaker to support the use of HPV vaccination but stunned the audience by declaring she is changing her mind so she “could sleep at night”.

She claims “the risk of cervical cancer is already extremely low and that vaccinations are unlikely to have any effect upon the rates of cervical cancer in the USA” according to Bret Lambert in Disclosure. Harper claimed 70 percent of HPV self-resolves within a year without treatment and the figure rises to 90 percent after two years.

Harper reported “that eight of ten women will have HPV at some point in their lives” and not become symptomatic. In the long run, “98 percent of cases will self- clear,” and the vaccine is only good for five years.


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Why Couric took this non-controversial topic and is trying to make it controversial is akin to actress and former Playboy bunny Jenny McCarthy speaking out about vaccines causing high upticks in  autism. It also matches University of Michigan finding that 24 percent of parents assign “some trust” to celebrity provided information.

Couric and McCarthy may be providing a public disservice.

Dr. Harpers statements and of HPV seem misleading and incomplete.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported there are more than 30 types of HPV transmitted through sexual contact and affect the anogenital areas. Some HPV cause genital warts that may become cancerous and are considered “high risk” and HPV infection is responsible for nearly all cases of cervical cancer.


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What Harper has not said is just because an individual does contract HPV and overcomes it, this does not translate to develop an immunity, and the same person may easily be re-infected. Self-cured people who are infected with HHPV yet remain sexual active may be carriers and may also be introduced to another type of HPV to which they are not resistant.

Medscape reports in 2008, there were about one half million new cases of HPV and a reported 270,000 deaths worldwide.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) claims the vaccines for HPV were among the most well studied and researched medicines in recent years and the result is over 59 million doses of vaccine distributed from June of 2006 to March 2013.

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) proffers out of the 59 million doses administered, only 22,000 girls and women reported as having “adverse events” which means an undesired side effect such as nausea, dizziness, fainting, headache, fever, hives and localized injection site pain.

VAERS claims 85 deaths have been reported after receiving the vaccine but there is no evidence tying the vaccine with the deaths and there is no diagnosis that the vaccines contributed to the deaths.

Jenny McCarthy has long been soapbox style promoting her opinion that vaccines contribute to the rise in autism despite that facts that the CDC, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and many other well respected medical reporting agencies have debunked such fears and cannot find a relationship between vaccination and autism.

Perhaps taking advice from of celebrities, who search for controversy stirring angles, may be detrimental to one’s health. Getting the facts from qualified medical experts is the best approach for making health related decisions.

Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and psychotherapist


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Paul R. Mountjoy

Paul Mountjoy is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science

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