COLUMN: My kid over your needle

Palm Beach Post Editorial Writer

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Take three shots and sue us in the morning.

That’s essentially what Uncle Sam is telling a Florida Panhandle teen who doesn’t want to take Gardasil. The vaccine supposedly prevents the two strains of the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause 70’percent of cervical cancers. Simone Davis, 17, of Port St. Joe said she doesn’t need Gardasil because she has no plans to become sexually active. The U.S. government has said, Get the shots or go back to England.

Female immigrants between 11 and 26 must get Gardasil vaccinations to become citizens. Simone, who is seeking citizenship, moved to Florida from England when she was 3, adopted by her grandmother, who had married an American. Their request for a waiver on moral and religious grounds was denied.

“I kind of feel like they may be experimenting with immigrants to see how we will react, and then give the vaccine to citizens,” Simone said. “If it is such a great vaccine, why isn’t it mandatory for everyone?”

A better question: Why is it mandatory for anyone?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Gardasil is safe for females between 11 and 26. There’s no proof, however, that the vaccine protects against HPV longer than five years. So we’re keeping 11-year-olds safe from a sexually transmitted virus until they’re 16. How about we just try and keep them virgins instead?

Even a lead researcher for Gardasil’s manufacturer, pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., now has doubts. “The benefit to public health is nothing,” said Dr. Diane Harper, who helped design and carry out studies to get Gardasil approved. “There is no reduction in cervical cancers; they are just postponed, unless the protection lasts for at least 15 years, and over 70 percent of all sexually active females of all ages are vaccinated.”

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.