If you are one of the few that hasn’t watched ‘Laura Brennan: This is me’ then I highly recommend you do. Especially if you are a parent or ever plan on becoming one. It’s been a long time since I’ve shed a tear watching T.V. Even though I was already familiar with Laura’s story, I found the programme incredibly emotional. The scene where they went to see Santa got me. I have daughters. I can only imagine how they all felt. Laura was a beautiful bubbly girl who would have lived an ordinary life enriching those around her with her presence. Most of us would never have heard of her. And we would be worse off for it.
Laura Brennan died from Cervical Cancer. There was no vaccine available in schools when she was in school. There is now. The H.P.V. vaccine will prevent countless cases of Cervical Cancer in vaccinated girls. Vaccinated boys will also benefit from reduced Cancer rates as well as protecting their partners in later life.
After Laura was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer the national uptake rate for the H.P.V. Vaccine at schools dropped to 51%. Laura Brennan saw this as a call to action. She spent the rest of her life raising awareness and telling her story so that girls would avail of the vaccine and avoid her fate. I can think of nothing more heroic.
Vaccine refusal is unfortunately nothing new. Parents are ordinary people. Most are not doctors or academics. Some can find it hard to evaluate evidence in order to make these decisions. Anti-Vaxers prey on this lack of knowledge with fear. There is no end to the amount of nonsensical anti-vaccine material out there. Facebook seems to be finally dealing with it but it’s still not hard to find.
The success of the anti-vaccine movement has been in using emotional arguments to defeat facts. That’s why Laura Brennan’s campaign was so successful. She let us share in her heart breaking journey. And the facts are on her side. Anyone who has watched the programme or followed Laura’s story and remains opposed to the H.P.V. vaccine will never be convinced. We can just hope that the loved ones they put in mortal danger get lucky, or are protected by future partners being vaccinated.
Conspiracy Theories are often gateway drugs for each other. It is likely that your nearest vaccine opponent believes in more conspiracies. The next time a completely unqualified friend advises you against vaccinations ask them a few questions. Are they opposed to water fluoridation? (Cities in America that have stopped water fluoridation have seen large increases in child tooth decay rates). Are they afraid of 5G? (They think their phones are going to kill them, but not cancer, enough said). Is the world flat? (Believe it or not this is a growing belief amongst these types). There are countless other wild beliefs out there.
At best these people can be described as deeply mislead. At best. Those that sent Laura negative comments and replies are far worse. You wouldn’t take driving lessons from someone who has never driven. Don’t take medical advice from people who have no qualifications and no experience. In fact don’t take any advice about anything from these people. They are so misguided that they think they know more than doctors and scientists because they read something on the internet. Go to the experts. HPV.ie is where the real information is. Let your decision to vaccinate be a part of Laura Brennan’s wonderful legacy.
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