“The HPV vaccine is considered a life-saving cancer preventer, but is it a potentially deadly dose for girls?” This was the promo for Wednesday’s episode of Katie, Katie Couric’s daytime talk show on ABC. Couric, whose husband passed away from colon cancer, is known for being a relatively responsible journalist when it comes to health care issues, so despite this needlessly alarmist advertising, I held out hope that her show would demonstrate that no matter how adamant a very small group of people are that their health problems are caused by the HPV vaccine, there is no evidence that the HPV vaccine is dangerous. Sadly, my hopes were dashed as Couric spent a half-hour of her show drumming up fears that the vaccine will make you very ill or even kill you.
For at least the ten thousandth time, it’s worth pointing out that “debating” the science on vaccine safety and efficacy is about as fruitful or necessary as debating the veracity of the moon landing. Perhaps next week, Couric will host a thoughtful discussion on children’s dental care. Yes, she encouraged her own children to brush their teeth several times a day, but some people have concerns that deserve a balanced hearing. Most young people who die unexpectedly, for example, have brushed their teeth with fluoride toothpaste [insert “precious bodily fluids” joke here] sometime in the previous 24 hours. That ominous correlation deserves a closer look. Indeed, perhaps other correlations will emerge when we do. There’s no way to know for sure. We’re simply asking questions.