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Vaccine opponents should declare their interest

KATHY Sinnott (Letters, September 6) calls for the HPV vaccine Gardasil to be withheld from all parents and children pending what she calls “an honest debate”.

This is after her very one-sided argument deriding any benefits, castigating the suppliers and the HSE, and further hyping the scare stories about the vaccine. By all means let’s continue the “honest debate”, but why not let educated people make up their own minds while the debate continues.

And if the debate is really honest, then interested parties should make clear their own vested interests before making their argument. While it may be fair game for certain parties to point out that drugs companies invest in creating new products in order to make profits (isn’t that what any successful company does?), those who have religious reasons to oppose any HPV vaccine, no matter how perfect or not, should declare their interests as well.

If we just listened to the scare stories about ingredients in much of our food or the adverse reactions to everyday medications, then we would deny ourselves the significant benefits of basics like milk, toothpaste and aspirin.

How much more testing does Kathy Sinnott want before the HPV vaccine is acceptable? And how many other daily-use products is she willing to subject to the same testing? It is worth noting that many basic foodstuffs would struggle to meet acceptance criteria for new food products, including coffee, rhubarb and even the humble potato.

It seems very ironic to me that many alternative therapies such as homeopathy or meditation are brought to market with minimal controls or benefit analysis because they are not subject to the very lengthy and stringent controls on real medications. And some of these ‘therapies’ are very profitable businesses with very dubious benefits.

While Ms Sinnott and others may never want to give their children the HPV vaccine, she should not try to deny me and others the choice.

In hindsight I was wrong to listen to those using similar tactics against the MMR vaccine. Children died as a result of reduced uptake of that vaccine. Since then I take a very careful look at the agendas behind the people taking positions in such cases.

There is significant science behind the HPV vaccine, as there was with the MMR vaccine. Let Ms Sinnott continue her debate, but I will vaccinate as the benefits are clear. If additional scientific evidence is produced (excluding dogmatic scare stories), I will reconsider my position.

Andrew Doyle





Co Cork


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