May 14, 2010
The government told us to become ‘one less’ and to vaccinate ourselves as part of the ‘fight against cervical cancer.’ It is certainly a campaign we needed but is Ian Frazer’s ‘hpv vaccine’ the answer we were looking for? The campaign itself was certainly effective. It was so strong that one could almost presume that to not vaccinate yourself would be like encouraging cervical cancer. Girls around the world were quite literally grabbed and jabbed at a rate that would almost suggest that perhaps cancer was lurking in the waiting room. No part of the campaign encouraged women to research the vaccine in order to empower themselves to make informed decisions about their own bodies and health. In many cases women were not even provided with the most basic information required to make informed decisions. General practitioners receive payment per vaccinations, not general discussions. Information that was scarcely distributed included the vaccines duration of effectiveness, possible side effects and pap smear requirements post inoculation. This could raise the question whether ethically, or legally, some patients have given ‘informed consent’ for their vaccinations with Gardasil, which goes under the slightly varied title ‘Silgard’ in Europe.
Firstly, Gardasil doesn’t make girls immune from cervical cancer, it vaccinates against several strains of the human papilloma virus (hpv). In 98% of cases, hpv clears by itself. However, in rare cases, if the virus persists and is left undetected, it can lead to cervical cancer. This usually takes about 10 years and cervical cancer accounts for less than 1 percent of all cancer deaths. Girls are required to maintain their regular pap smears after vaccinations as they are still at risk of developing cervical cancer. One of the lead researchers involved in the creation of Gardasil, Dr.Diane Harper, surprised the medical community when she raised concerns that the hpv vaccine should only be issued with more complete warnings. She also made it clear that none of the experts who created the vaccine actually know how long it lasts. Around five years, perhaps? Dr. Harper also confirmed that, “There are serious adverse events, including death, associated with Gardasil use.”