The HPV vaccine Gardasil has been in the news a lot lately, and never for a positive reason. The death toll is rising among young women given the vaccine and reports of severe adverse affects, such as paralysis, are also growing.
No matter what your general position on vaccinations, it is always worrisome when they cause severe reactions. Unlike with infants, where the cause of death is not always certain due to things like SIDS, it’s much easier to pinpoint the problem when otherwise healthy teenagers die within hours of receiving a shot.
A news outlet asks, should parents worry about the vaccine? Most certainly! Caution should be the watchword, especially in states where it is being considered for the “mandatory” schedule. Consider the following:
- Even though Gardasil safety testing is still underway, it is already being pushed by doctors everwhere. (At my visit to a doctor’s office last year I was placed in a room with a very large mounted advertisement for the vaccine, taking up nearly the whole wall!)
- They still don’t know how long it will last or when boosters will be needed. The CDC says the “duration of immunity … has not been established” but they reckon it will be a “long time”. (That means there’s no guarantee your 9 year old that gets the shot will have any remaining protection against HPV by the time she is sexually active.)
- The shot is expensive, the highest ever marketed! It costs $125 per dose plus the cost of the visits, and three are needed to complete the recommended series. There are government programs in place to help pay for it, but that bill ultimately comes back to the taxpayer. It is not yet covered by most insurance companies.
- The shots are notoriously painful.
- Even a lead researcher for the vaccine is unhappy with the way it is being marketed! She cautions that there is “not enough evidence gathered on side effects to know that safety is not an issue” for younger girls. All of her trials were with subjects ages 15 to 25.
Even though we don’t have a daughter, I feel it important to keep a watchful eye on this issue. It has the potential to have a major impact on friends and family, and there’s been talk of giving the vaccine to boys as well as older women (including my age group). Already I know of one family member that has gotten the shots at the recommendation of her doctor, thankfully without a major reaction.
As I’ve said in previous comments, I’m not out to tell people what to do, but to encourage informed decisions. I encourage anyone who might need to consider receiving this vaccine, a growing number given the ever-widening scope, to research carefully. You can always go get the shot, but once it’s been given you can’t take it back.
FDA product approval information – including package insert, patient information, Q&A, etc.