Since health authorities have failed to uphold the promise of the polio vaccine, scientists are now trying to eliminate infection with the highly contagious illness, which can result in fatal neurologic disease in children as young as six months.
As with anything that is new, some vaccines can cause side effects, and it is often difficult to determine what exactly has happened.
Opponents of vaccination fear that the harmful effects of the vaccines are being overhyped.
But sometimes conflicting information can lead the public to unsubstantiated conclusions, which can negatively impact their decisions on how to handle health risks in the future. Such is the case in a new study that appears in “Science,” a peer-reviewed journal released by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
This study, by the Oxford University press office, took four years to complete and has largely been discredited by other scientific organizations. The editors of the journal, however, decided to publish it anyway, in the hope that the results would help improve vaccine choice.
One group of researchers had gathered evidence that rare yet worrisome side effects of the HPV vaccination, including allergic reactions, skin rashes and other potential cases of skin cancers, were underreported.
The authors claim that there is a small risk that these children will develop serious problems — and that “health professionals should ask parents to be alert to these side effects.” However, they do not provide any evidence that these problems were underreported before the initial inoculation program began.
Another group, including researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, King’s College London and the University of Oxford, picked apart the conflict of interest claims made by the Oxford scientists and their colleagues at the time.
University of Oxford investigators have denied that their work compromised their study. According to University of Oxford press officer Mark Ferguson, “None of the review articles submitted by or against the Oxford papers have ever been reviewed for independent accuracy. The associated publications were duly considered and accepted by scientists from around the world, many of whom support the vaccine.”