“Cancer Vaccine”?

Last Sunday, an article appeared in the Chicago Tribune that referred to Gardasil as a “cancer vaccine”. Yesterday, the Tribune printed my letter to the editor criticizing their inaccurate terminology:

This is regarding “Cost, insurance issues limit use of cancer vaccine” (News, Feb. 4). This headline implies that Gardasil is an inoculation again cervical cancer itself. It is not. Indeed a sidebar alongside the article reports that developer Merck & Co. claims that “Gardasil prevents 99 percent of infections by two HPV strains that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer.” What about infections that cause the other 30 percent? Gardasil provides no protection against these. It is both inaccurate and irresponsible for the Tribune to refer to Gardasil as a “cancer vaccine.” John Jansen Co-director Generations for Life Chicago

I knew that short letters have the best chance of being printed, so I didn’t talk about what I personally believe about whether or not it’s a good idea to give your nine-year old daughter the HPV vaccine, whether or not states should make it mandatory, etc. Instead, I decided to keep the letter as brief as possible — and also to keep it objective: In this letter, all I wanted to do was to point out why it is incorrect to refer to Gardasil as a “cancer vaccine”. That said, be sure to check out the comments on my letter on the Tribune site. One commenter, named Dienne, said, “I’m still waiting for you people to declare your opposition to seat belts…” Keep waiting, Dienne. Or better yet, don’t. A commenter named Rob advises me not to “nitpick” and tells me, “Get over yourself.” Regarding Generations for Life, a commenter named Jon asks:

Ever get the feeling these guys have taken another page from radical Islam?

He then gives me this bit of advice:

…I suggest you pull your head out of the dirt long enough to put on a burka just like your facist [sic] Islamic breatheren [sic].

I can’t help but wonder: Is Jon aware that a burqa is a woman’s garment? And finally, a commenter who goes by the name Karen Up North has this to say about me:

He’s no more pro-life than a murderer on death row. And no more Christian than the devil himself.

And to think these comments were brought on by a letter about a newspaper’s use of incorrect terminology! Some people sure are testy.

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