My heart goes out to the parents of the poor 14-year-old girl who died after her cervical cancer jab last week. I can't imagine how awful it must be to face the death of a beloved daughter. My own Child One, on the cusp of 14 now, is such a delight all of a sudden that I can hardly bear to part with her for the obligatory every-other-weekend. The idea of eternity without her gentle smile just makes me cry. Though she still has (deeply) childish moments, I can see the lovely young woman she'll become. And she has a fabulous figure, waist-length blonde hair and endless legs, grrrr.
The whole cervical cancer injection thing is a worry, as Child Two is coming up fast to the jabbing age. The girl who died (I don't want to include her name as, if she were my daughter, I don't think I'd want it bandied about by unknown bloggers) turned out to have 'underlying health problems,' a favourite Government phrase which I find deeply sinister. In her case, it does seem as though the injection had little to do with her tragic death, but of course it's made me question the whole business.
Has the Government really tested this innoculation thoroughly? Is it using a generation of 13 and 14 year old girls as guinea pigs? A lot of girls at Child One's school seemed to suffer side effects. I did put it down, at the time, to girly-girly hysteria, though Child One herself did complain of a sore arm for days. At the time of the second injection, she had a slight temperature and had been staying with Mr X. He urged her to tell the nurse she wasn't well, and the injection was postponed - to my fury at the time, as Mr X had gaily left me with the lovely job of contacting the local NHS Trust, finding the right person, setting up an alternative appointment within the statutory 6 week period and, of course, chauffeuring Child One to and from it. In the end, I managed to wangle an injection at the school with some year 10 girls, who were much less prone to shrieking, and as a result she had no residual soreness after the jab.
While I cursed Mr X roundly at the time for messing things up, I now look back and am hugely relieved that Child One didn't have the injection while she wasn't 100 per cent well. Who's to say that she couldn't have become the first statistic, with a Government spokesperson intoning solemnly that she had 'underlying health issues'?. Will Child Two be having the injection next year? I'm not sure.