Four vaccine and immunity related posts caught my attention in the past week. One was the horrific story of the mother who let her three kids suffer through pertussis (whooping cough) because she wanted to treat them naturally. The mother’s natural treatments didn’t work, and the kids suffered for months. The first kid infected the second and third siblings, who went down like dominoes. It’s a rather infuriating read.
The second piece is an explanation of a “study” of homeopathic treatments vs antibiotics for a common cold. Of course antibiotics shouldn’t be used for a cold virus, as Dr. Roy Benaroch points out in his article. He also points out the ethical issues of said study, including the fact that it’s published in a journal that will print pretty much anything if you pay the publication price. Read on and be ready to question.
The third piece is about the beloved/despised HPV vaccine. It’s beloved by immunologists and public health officials because it works in reducing the incidence of cervical cancer. It’s despised by people who suggest anecdotal evidence shows it causes horrible side effects like complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), although they have no science to prove it. Anecdotal evidence can be very powerful, mind you- humans love stories to explain things.
This latest piece comes down on the side of science rather than anecdote. The European Medicines Agency “concluded that the vaccine, given to teenage girls and boys to protect them from cervical, anal, and/or other HPV-related cancers, as well as genital warts, shows no direct link between the three marketed vaccines—Cervarix, Gardasil/Silgard, and Gardasil-9—and the onset of either CRPS or POTS.” These findings are in line with what other studies have found, yet it may not stop the inflammatory (no pun intended) pieces that appear regularly in the news, as Dr Jen Gunter says. Mysterious misery sells.
The last piece I’ll pull into this is the one about how doctors may be contributing to the low uptake of the HPV vaccine. They aren’t talking about it with their patients the way they should be. Some doctors may not feel they have the time; others may be wary of the fact that the vaccine protects against a sexually transmitted infection and don’t want to get into that with young kids or their parents. Either way, or other ways, it’s not getting the air time it needs to protect the youth it’s designed for.
If you’re a parent pondering the HPV vaccine for your kid, you can rest assured it’s safe. Ditto if you’re a patient. Talk to your doctor about its suitability for you. Although they should, they might not talk to you first.