Dale Haslam, Senior Reporter of the Bury Times, has complained that many people missed the point of his coverage of the St Monica’s School fiasco. Perhaps it’s easier to believe that than accept the much more plausible diagnosis – that most people understood his point quite clearly, then immediately disregarded it as eminently and evidently spurious.So, the debate goes on. Let us know what you think by replying to this post.
He seems convinced that the school’s participation in a trial of the vaccine is a sign of their belief in its moral rectitude. This flies in the face of actual evidence from one of their governors, Monsignor Allen, who implied that the vaccination was, in essence, encouraging girls to be promiscuous: “Morally it seems to be a sticking-plaster response. Parents must consider the knock-on effect of encouraging sexual promiscuity. Instead of taking it for granted that teenagers will engage in sexual activity, we can offer a vision of a full life keeping yourself for a lifelong partnership in marriage.”
Mr Haslam suggests that the school could not possibly object to the vaccine on moral grounds "else why would it have allowed the trial?". Well, I can think of three reasons, off the top of my head.
One, the governing body might not have been consulted about the vaccine trial.
Two, the governing body might have changed some of its members since the trial was approved.
Three, and most cynically, the school might allow a trial it considered immoral for precisely the reason that it could then more legitimately refuse to administer the vaccine once the trial was over. Short term loss for long term gain. Trial girls obviously encouraged into a life of sexual promiscuity and degradation, but future generations saved for a "lifelong partnership in marriage".
He takes exception to my accusation of hypocrisy levelled at an organization that allows the TB jab but not the HPV one: "TB jabs have been used for decades and myriad research has been done into the side effects of them - that is not the case with the cervical cancer jab." Yes, quite. The TB jab is considered safe now, precisely because it has been used millions of times. Some people have adverse reactions to it, although not many, but the net gain is clearly worth the occasional side effects. If schools in the past had had the same attitude as St Monica’s, the TB jab might not have been used millions of times, and many more of us would have contracted TB. Thank goodness previous generations were more courageous, or perhaps less venal, than the current one.
He goes on to say, "If the school allowed the vaccine to be taken on school grounds, parents would carte blanche allow it and therefore, hold the school responsible should the worst happen (a child dies/becomes seriously ill due to a side effect and let's remember the school does not have access to the pupils' medical records, so even if it did know that the vaccine, for example, made autistic pupil seriously ill, it wouldn't even know which pupils were autistic)."
Now, let’s look at the argument here. Am I seriously intended to believe that parents of an autistic child, which Mr Haslam appears to believe would be especially vulnerable to contracting serious illness from a vaccine, would simply assume that if the school was conducting the vaccination programme, it was safe for their particular, prone-to-illness child? How ridiculous. Parents of chronically ill children are almost invariably conscious of potential hazards. They are hardly likely to take the school’s word for what is or isn’t appropriate for their child – they would speak to their GP. And school policy isn’t usually decided on what would be appropriate for one, unusual child: it’s decided on what is appropriate for most children. An autistic child will often require special provision – why should vaccinations be any different from school lunches or reading lessons?
He says "In that trial, staff saw side effects in some of its pupils, who either went home ill the same day, phoned in sick the following day or were excused from class while they vomited or felt light headed." The actual statistics for the trial give rise to the fiction here – the trials involved more than 100,000 girls, and the number of adverse reactions was so low, it was equivalent to 2.6 cases in every 100,000 doses. None of which had serious lasting effects. I suppose it’s possible that every single one of those (approximately) 3 sick girls was at St Monica’s, or that the girls there are somehow susceptible to side effects in a way that girls everywhere else aren’t. It is, however, a great deal more likely that someone is lying or mistaken. Either the staff are exaggerating what they saw, or the girls saw an excellent opportunity to have a day off. You’ve been a teenager – what do you think is likely?
He concludes, "It is not a moral argument". It is precisely that. Quite aside from the issue of women’s sexual health, this vaccine protects a group. Herd immunity relies on enough of us having jabs for illnesses we may never get to protect the few of us who don’t get the jab and might get the illness. When parents refused to get the MMR job for their children, they didn’t just endanger their own offspring, they endangered everyone who came into contact with them, including some children too young to receive the MMR jab yet themselves.
St Monica’s is the only school in the country to refuse to administer the HPV vaccine on its premises. So while it is possible that they are privy to special medical knowledge that the rest of us can only imagine, it seems much more likely that they are, in fact, wrong. What a pity their local press is too gutless or gullible to question them.
Update: Dale Haslam has replied to Natalie now – read it in the comments on this post