Our pediatrician weighs in.
Gardasil prevents the spread of HPV -- a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer. But out of the millions of Gardasil vaccines administered worldwide since the drug was approved two years ago, 7,802 "adverse events"...from nausea to paralysis...have been reported. The drug manufacturer Merck said in a statement that an adverse event report "does not mean that a causal relationship between an event and vaccination has been established -- just that the event occurred after vaccination."
Is the vaccine safe for our daughters? We asked pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson for her advice.
"Any time a new drug or vaccine comes to market, there is a push and pull. On the one hand, some consumers often worry that it hasn't been studied long enough to be proven safe. On the other hand, others contend that drugs get locked up in a rigorous testing process filled with red tape, ultimately delaying the delivery of the drug to market. This first group would be happy if the medicine stayed out of circulation for longer while the latter group gets frustrated that it is not available sooner.
When it comes to medicines--particularly life-saving medicines--most people seem willing to take the gamble and try something that may not have long-term data. But vaccines are another story. Vaccines protect against getting a disease. Therefore, people who are healthy receive vaccines so they won't get sick. As a result, when vaccines are accused of having serious side effects, they are blamed for taking a perfectly healthy person and making her ill.
Gardasil was licensed by the FDA two years ago for girls ages 9-26. Since then, it has been given to approximately 8 million girls. It has been accused of adverse effects (everything from significant pain to dizzy spells and passing out to death) in more than 7,800 girls. There are 15 reports of death--however, none of these has been proven to be caused by the vaccine.
Before it came to market, Gardasil was studied in more than 10,500 girls over the course of several years. No serious complications were reported in the study group. But it is not uncommon for new complications to be reported when a medicine goes from a relatively small study group to a large population--in this case, for every one girl that received the vaccine in the trial, 760 girls have received it in the doctor's office.
The FDA will have to look closely at the claims against Gardasil, especially the 15 deaths that occurred around the same time that the vaccine was given. As of now, the FDA has found no causal link between the deaths and the vaccine; rather it looks to them like an extremely unfortunate coincidence. The FDA and CDC will continue to probe the situation aggressively, however, because everyone agrees that the goal of vaccines is to prolong life and health, not to threaten them."Will you allow your daughter to receive the Gardasil vaccine?