Last year I aired a radio commentary called "Caution Advised for Gardasil." Gardasil's manufacturer, Merck, had launched a big marketing campaign to sell this new vaccine, which was supposed to partially protect girls against Human Papilloma Virus, commonly known simply as HPV. That's the virus that causes genital warts, a sexually transmitted disease, and can lead to cervical cancer in some women. Merck's aggressive marketing of Gardasil produced a honeymoon with the media, and caused several states to pass laws to require or to pay for or to educate the public about the merits of the vaccine. Many states considered requiring the vaccine for girls to enter public school.
Now, more than a year later, the lead researcher in the development of Gardasil, Dr. Diane Harper, says the drug will do little to reduce cervical cancer rates and, even though Gardasil is being recommended for girls as young as 9 years old, there have been no efficacy trials in children under the age of 15.
Wow! She added, "The rate of serious adverse events is greater than the incidence rate of cervical cancer."
Dr. Harper said that 70% of all HPV infections cure themselves without treatment within a year, and 90% within two years. Of the remaining HPV infections, only half will develop into cervical cancer, so there is little need for the vaccine. She said, "It is silly to mandate vaccination of 11 to 12 year old girls. There is not enough evidence gathered on side effects to know that safety is not an issue."
Since testing of Gardasil extended only over five years, no one can predict if the immunity from shots given to middle school girls will extend even through their college years. Parents should make vaccine decisions about their own daughters, not state legislators, or governors, or school administrators.
Listen to the audio version of this commentary.