The UK media have learned nothing from the debacle over the MMR vaccine – where they relentlessly covered stories doubting the safety of MMR, putting the lives of children at risk (this is cross-posted from my blog).
They are continuing their habit of undermining public-health initiatives with their latest scare story about the safety of the cervical cancer jab, after the tragic death of a schoolgirl who had the vaccine the same day.
I’ve given each of the mainstream media an irresponsibility rating below – the Mail and Express are the worst scaremongers, followed by the Mirror and Times.
It’s calculated as follows:
- A headline suggesting a causal link between the vaccine and the girl’s death – there is no evidence of this so far, the two events just occurred on the same day: 20 points
- The use of a photo or words in the headline casting doubt on the safety of the vaccine itself (as opposed to, say, this being a one-off allergic reaction): 20 points
- Calls for the vaccine to be banned: 20 points
- No mention of how many lives the vaccine will save: 20 points.
- Separate comment piece doubting the safety of the vaccine, or emphasis of other stories about vaccine problems: 10 points
- Ill-informed user comments adding to the suggestion of unsafety. 10 points
Daily Mail: 90% irresponsible
- The headline suggests a causal link. It makes claims of a ‘rogue batch’ in quotes where the only use of those words in the story are the journalist’s own.
- It’s running a poll: “Should the cervical cancer vaccination be suspended”.
- There are a lot of figures about side effects – no mention of actual lives saved.
- The best rated comment is currently “Chemical experiments on our children.” The worst rated is “Many more deaths may occur without the vaccine to guard against HPV.” The comments section is appalling, frankly – full of ill-informed anti-vaccine scaremongering.