Gardasil, a vaccine which prevents Human Papillomavirus cancer, is sometimes eschewed even by those who normally embrace vaccination. Some parents ensure that their children are fully inoculated, with this one exception.
But Gardasil’s safety record is excellent and the refusals are based on a misinformation campaign. The HPV vaccine is part of a regimen that makes is less likely to contract one type of cancer. Avoiding smoking and excessive sun and alcohol, along vaccines and a reasonable diet and exercise program all play their part in optimal health.
With regard to HPV, it causes nearly five percent on new cancers, the same as tobacco. Skipping the vaccine, then, creates unnecessary risk. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that 11- and 12-year-olds be vaccinated against it.
But since HPV is a sexually-transmitted disease, some religious parents feel that allowing the vaccine will cause their child to be promiscuous. But this is no more reasonable than thinking that skipping the vaccine will cause chaste behavior. Then there are those who think their children are too upright to fall prey to temptations of the flesh. This assumption about their offspring’s behavior is matched only by their inflated sense of their parenting skills. Moreover, the horrific but plausible idea of the child being sexually assaulted should be enough to override this line of reasoning.
The Skeptical Raptor cited a Gardasil safety study of 200,000 young women, which showed no “evidence of new safety concerns among females 9 to 26 years of age secondary to vaccination with HPV4.”
In another study of almost 1 millions girls and young women, HPV-vaccinated subjects were compared with those who received a placebo. The authors concluded that the study “identified no safety signals with respect to autoimmune, neurological, and venous thromboembolic events after the HPV vaccine had been administered.
Additionally, an eight-year clinical trial comparing HPV to a placebo showed no difference in adverse results.
Points to the contrary consist mainly of anecdotes over data, offenses to religious sensibilities, and whispers (or shouts) about the evils of Big Pharma. In other words, not much science and research going on.
There are no legitimate, evidence-based objections to Gardasil, which research has repeatedly shown to be safe and effective. Studies published in authentic medical journals, highlighting work done by experts in the fields of epidemiology, virology, infectious diseases, and cancer research, all bear this out.
Looking for a citation to support the comment: “With regard to HPV, it causes nearly five percent on new cancers, the same as tobacco.” I think this may put the risks into better perspective for my patients’ parents and encourage them to accept the vaccine.