Friday, August 15, 2008

Is Gardasil Right for Your Daughter?

If you have a teenage daughter, you have no doubt heard of Gardasil, the relatively new vaccine from the Merck corporation to prevent Human Papillomavirus (HPV). There has been a lot of controversy about this vaccine and it is important to know the facts to make a right decision for your child.

HPV is a virus passed through genital contact occurring in up to 80% of adults in the US. It can often go away on its own, but has a link to causality in some forms of cervical/vaginal cancers. Every year, 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the US and almost 4,000 of them die.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the vaccine for females 11-26, ideally before they become sexually active as it does not cure existing infections. It can prevent up to 70% of cervical cancers and targets they types of HPV that most commonly cause cervical cancer and genital warts. It does not protect against all forms of HPV, so Pap testing will still be necessary. If you do not get the vaccine, regular Pap testing can still prevent cervical cancer by catching it in a precancerous stage.
More general information can be found at

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a national program of CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that monitors the safety of vaccines after they are licensed. After over 16 million doses of Gardasil have been distributed in the US, VAERS has received 6,667 reports of adverse effects following the vaccine. Of these reports, over 94% were for non-serious effects such as pain at the injection site and headache. Less than 6% were for serious events, which is less that half of the average for vaccines overall. (See )

The negatives are, indeed, that there are adverse reactions at all. The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is a non-profit organization founded by parents of children that have been injured or died following DPT vaccines. They have intensive articles at regarding the side effects of this vaccine, including symptoms such as chest pain, rash and fever, as well as Guillain-Barre Syndrome and even death.

It boils down to this:

Is Gardasil necessary to prevent cervical cancer? No
Is Gardasil helpful in preventing cervical cancer? Yes
Is Gardasil totally safe? No
Is Gardasil at least as safe as the average vaccine? Yes
Is Gardasil right for your child? Only you can answer this.

Be informed and make the decision that is right for you.

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