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Observations Medicine and the media

Fainting schoolgirls wipe $A1bn off market value of Gardasil producer

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 07 June 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1195
  1. Simon Chapman, professor of public health,
  2. Ross MacKenzie, research officer
  1. School of Public Health, University of Sydney
  1. Correspondence to:S Chapmansc{at}

    Public health workers need to be as vigilant against one-sided media coverage of vaccination as they were against the disinformation spread by the tobacco industry

    On 22 May news broke that 25 girls at a Catholic high school in Melbourne who had just had their first injection of Gardasil, the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), presented to the school's sick bay with symptoms that included headache, nausea, and dizziness. CSL, the vaccine's Australian developer, reports that four pupils were sent to hospital for further examination. It said, “One had chest pain and palpitations; she had a past history of these symptoms. She was discharged the same day. The second had hyperventilation paraesthesiae and was sent home the same day. The third and fourth had neurological symptoms and were admitted. The fourth girl had reported progressive muscular weakness. Overnight both got better and were seen by the neurologist in the morning who diagnosed non-organic illness.”

    Other than the mother of …

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