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Investigation into Gardasil vaccine 'did not breach broadcasting standards'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has not upheld a complaint about a 3D investigation broadcast in November last year. The item featured the stories of several girls who believed they had suffered serious health problems after being injected with the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil. The programme also reported on the as-yet-unexplained sudden deaths of two girls who had received the Gardasil vaccination.

The maker of Gardasil, Seqirus (NZ) Ltd, complained that the item misleadingly gave the impression that Gardasil was unsafe and alarmed and deceived the public when there was no evidential basis for doing so.

However, the BSA found that ‘[t]he tone of the programme was not alarmist, but rather exploratory. It posed the question whether Gardasil might be unsafe for some girls, with reference to the experiences of the girls featured.’

The BSA considered the public interest was served by the 3D investigation, which was done in a responsible and balanced way. The programme presented viewers with adequate information on both sides, and addressed the significant medical evidence which disputed that Gardasil was unsafe.

In reaching its decision, the BSA emphasised the high public interest value of the broadcast, in particular in giving a platform for minority voices to be heard.

‘The Gardasil vaccination programme in schools is publicly funded. It is a vital function of the media, when questions are raised about an aspect of the public health system, to investigate these issues and robustly scrutinise the system,’ the BSA said.

‘It was legitimate for 3D to investigate the health issues being experienced by the young New Zealand girls interviewed, who had a right to have their stories told. …The programme allowed minority views to be heard which otherwise may not have been afforded such a platform.’

The BSA found overall that the story was well-reported, was measured in its presentation and gave viewers a range of information, which enabled them to make up their own minds about the vaccine.

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