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Katie Couric Slammed for HPV Vaccine 'Alarmism


"This issue has only one side and that suggesting otherwise is false equivalence..."

Katie Couric (Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

Katie Couric on her daytime show "Katie" Wednesday afternoon hosted guests to talk about the HPV vaccine controversy -- and she's getting criticized for it.

vaccine Photo credit: Shutterstock

The three-dose shot to protect against specific strains of the human papilloma virus is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control an Prevention for both girls and boys. Continuing studies by the CDC and Food and Drug Administration list the vaccine as safe.

According to the CDC, the vaccine, which is recommended to be administered between 11 and 12 years old, is meant to help prevent cancers that could result from the sexually transmitted virus.

But since the controversial vaccine was approved for use, there has been some concern among parents and patients that the vaccine could cause health issues after some who received the shots reported concerning symptoms shortly afterward.

Emily Tarsel, who appeared on Couric's show, was the mother of one of these patients, claiming her daughter died after receiving the HPV vaccine Gardasil in 2008. Also on the show was Rosemary Mathis, who started SaneVax, an anti-HPV vaccine advocacy group, after daughter, Lauren, became ill from what she believes were the shots. Pediatrician Dr. Mallika Marshall discussed why it is considered be a life-saving cancer prevention measure.

Watch this clip from the show:

But Couric is being lambasted by many for the anti-vaccine perspective shared on the show.

"Tarsell and Mathis are understandably distraught mothers. But Couric is a journalist," Alexandra Sifferlin wrote for Time magazine. "The bottom line is that there is no scientific evidence that the HPV vaccine causes adverse effects beyond normal vaccine side effects, such as dizziness, nausea, and pain and redness at the injection site."

Amanda Marcotte for Slate criticized Dr. Diane Harper, a skeptic of the vaccine who appeared on the show, for her supposed misinformation that the vaccine only last for five years (while the CDC says it's effective for a lifetime) and that she promotes Pap smears instead.

Ahead of the show, Couric had tweeted her plans to share both sides of the debate, but Emily Willingham, a contributor for Forbes, wrote in response that "this issue has only one side and that suggesting otherwise is false equivalence, giving equal weight to arguments that don’t carry equal weight of evidence." Williamham called Couric's show HPV vaccine "alarmism."



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