Bishop Cullinan and HPV vaccine

Bishop Phonsie Cullinan, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, says parents are being pressurised into agreeing to have the Gardasil HPV vaccine administered to their daughters.

Bishop Phonsie Cullinan, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, says parents are being pressurised into agreeing to have the Gardasil HPV vaccine administered to their daughters.

 

Sir, – Further to “Catholic bishop claims cervical cancer vaccine ‘only 70% safe’” (Online, September 27th), is it the case that a Catholic bishop can make remarks on any topic and have them appear in The Irish Times? Or is it the case that alongside being a bishop, Phonsie Cullinan is a medical professional or researcher? One of these must be the case for your newspaper to have published his remarks on the HPV vaccine. In his remarks, the bishop says that “debate is good”, which is a fine-sounding platitude, but a person in a position of respect questioning the opinions of qualified medical professionals without any relevant qualifications of their own is not good. The simple fact of the matter is that his comments will not help parents who are unsure of what to do about the vaccine; they only risk clouding the question further.

In my opinion the bishop should not have made comments about the HPV vaccine as I don’t see that he is qualified to do so. What truly worries me, though, is how The Irish Times felt that it was newsworthy or in the public interest to print them. To me that seems simply reckless. – Yours, etc,

DAVID HARTE,

Inchicore, Dublin 8.

Sir, – Bishop Phonsie Cullinan’s comments on the HPV vaccine were at best ill-advised and at worst extremely ignorant.

He is ignoring vast tranches of evidence that support the safety of this vaccine and his beliefs will no doubt further confuse worried parents on this topic.

There are no “conflicting questions” from experts about its safety and the World Health Organisation has backed this up countless times.

Linking the HPV vaccine to low self-esteem and depression is plain wrong.

Mentioning the HPV vaccine in the same sentence as promiscuity, pornography and reckless partying is plain perplexing.

The best way to describe this vaccine’s safety to people like Bishop Cullinan is to use an analogy. Imagine someone has been accused of a crime and acquitted in a court of law yet is still assumed to have committed that crime by some. That is where some are on this vaccine. It has had its safety rigorously tested countless times and, importantly, it will continue to have it tested into the future.

There is no conspiracy.

Perhaps the bishop should listen to some of those who have suffered from cervical cancer and their families before he decides to make more ill-informed comments on this topic. – Yours, etc,

Dr NIALL BREEN,

Dublin 5.