I was driving to work the other day listening to the radio. I happened to tune in to the program Here & Now on National Public Radio (NPR). The host, Robin Young, was interviewing Allison Kempe, MD of the University of Colorado about a recent study led by Dr. Kempe regarding the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.1
As part of the study, Dr. Kempe and her team surveyed 582 pediatricians and family physicians in the United States on their views about the vaccine. The survey found that more than a third of the doctors did not strongly recommend the vaccine for girls and boys 11 and 12 years of age, and that the most common reason given by the physicians for their reluctance was “a belief that patients hadn’t had sex and that parents would object.”2
The radio program had been on for nearly 10 minutes when, at one point, Young asked Dr. Kempe the following question about her study:
As a doctor, to see these results, that so many other doctors are afraid of pushing a vaccine, could be life-saving, because they’re worried about how parents might react, and they don’t understand it. What’s that like for you to get those results?1
Simple enough question, right? But there was something about it that bothered me, and it kept bothering me until I finalized realized what it was. It was that word “pushing.” Really, is that what doctors should be doing? Pushing vaccines?
It is no secret that the problem of doctors being pressured and incentivized by Big Pharma to prescribe more and more prescription drugs to their patients is a growing one.3 4 5 6 Now, it seems, the problem has spread to vaccines. It’s not bad enough that doctors have become drug pushers. Now, they’re being encouraged by not only drug companies and public health officials, but also journalists, to become vaccine pushers?
In an article titled “Ask Your Doctor: Are You Being Bribed to Recommend Vaccines?” Joseph Mercola, MD asks,
Ever wonder why your child’s pediatrician—or your own physician for that matter—seems to be pushing vaccines on you every time you walk in the door? Does your doctor actually seem angry if you’re not interested in buying a dose of that flu vaccine?7
Dr. Mercola believes it may have something to do with incentives doctors receive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to increase their vaccination rates as part of something called the Assessment, Feedback, Incentive, and eXchange (AFIX) program.7
The AFIX program encourages ‘friendly competition’ among staff to see who can increase vaccination rates the most, and prizes with monetary and career enhancing value include such things as ‘scholarships’ to training and professional meetings (a potentially huge value that could amount to hundreds of dollars per person), to plaques, and public recognition, such as being named a ‘Vaccine Champion.’7
According to Dr. Mercola, “Financial incentives also include opportunities to partner with pharmaceutical companies for additional funding sources.”7
So then, why are so many doctors less than enthusiastic about the HPV vaccine? Why are so many of them refusing to push it? Is it simply because doctors are uncomfortable broaching an issue involving sex with preadolescent children and their parents? Or could it also have something to do with the growing evidence of harm and controversy surrounding the safety of the vaccine?8 9 10 Either way, Dr. Kempe is clearly concerned about this hesitance to prescribe the vaccine. She says,
Many physicians are not presenting this vaccine as they do the other two routinely recommended vaccines in adolescents. They’re sort of making a big fuss about it, and presenting it as a very different type of vaccine. And for that reason, I think they’re helping to perpetuate this cycle of parents being more concerned and more likely to refuse or delay getting the vaccine.1
Reports are coming in from all over the world about young healthy girls being seriously injured by the HPV vaccine. Here’s a headline from the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail newspaper just last summer: “Tens of thousands of teenage girls believed to have fallen ill with debilitating illnesses after routine HPV cervical cancer jab”.11 Here’s one this month from Health Impact News: “HPV Vaccine Injuries and Deaths Now Being Reported from Central and South America”.12
The newspaper headlines, videos, and personal stories keep coming, and the social networking sites for those injured by the vaccine keep forming. The HPV vaccine is a very different type of vaccine. It’s harming a lot of our young girls and now the CDC and HPV vaccine manufacturers are heavily marketing the vaccine for young boys as well, without taking the reaction reports that keep rolling in seriously. That’s what the fuss should be about.
1 Here & Now. Study: Doctors Aren’t Urging Preteens To Get HPV Vaccine. National Public Radio Jan. 5, 2016.
2 Tanner L. Study: Doctors don’t strongly recommend HPV vaccinations. The Denver Post Jan. 4, 2016.
3 Baker S. Big Pharma pushes doctors to overprescribe drugs, study finds. Natural News Sept. 16, 2012.
4 Brodwin E. These Are The Drugs Doctors Get Paid The Most To Promote. Business Insider Jan. 9, 2015.
5 Oliver J. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Marketing to Doctors (HBO). YouTube.com Feb. 8, 2015 (published).
6 Ornstein C, Weber T, Nguyen D. Doctors Push Drugs for Dollars. AARP.org Oct. 19, 2010.
7 Mercola J. Ask Your Doctor: Are You Being Bribed to Recommend Vaccines? Mercola.com June 2, 2012.
8 Castillo M. Side effect fears stop parents from getting HPV vaccine for daughters. CBS News March 18, 2013.
9 Ji S. Study Reveals “Unavoidable” Danger of HPV Vaccines. GreenMedinfo.com Feb. 17, 2014.
10 La Vigne P. HPV Vaccines Raise International Red Flags. The Vaccine Reaction Oct. 7, 2015.
11 Macrae F. Tens of thousands of teenage girls believed to have fallen ill with debilitating illnesses after routine HPV cervical cancer jab. June 1, 2015.
12 Erickson N. HPV Vaccine Injuries and Deaths Now Being Reported from Central and South America. Health Impact News Jan. 5, 2016.
13 “De Vaccinerede Piger” (The Vaccinated Girls) | TV2 Denmark. June 2, 2015 (published).