By Dr. Sharon Ufberg
Friday, December 11, 2009
Gardasil, the HPV vaccine recommended for young women, has just been approved for boys and young men too. Dr. Sharon Ufberg says the stop-go, safety-danger signals means more research, study and discussion are needed
Comment from Leslie
Most of the information in the beginning of the article readers of this blog are aware of – I included the latter part of the article – but it is worth reading the whole piece.
More Red Flags
Other research also raises red flags. Findings presented in May 2009 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology by researchers from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey indicated that within two to six weeks after receiving an injection of Gardasil, females have heightened vulnerability to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a potentially deadly condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system.
They found that women who receive Gardasil are up to six times more likely to contract Guillain-Barre than people in the general population within six weeks of the treatment. The total numbers of those at risk are low, but it’s still unknown why Gardasil triggers this serious disease.
Once thought of as a lifesaver for low income and minority women, who average much higher rates of cervical cancer because of undetected HPV, the vaccine has been losing some of its initial luster as risks related to it usage become apparent.
Merck, with headquarters in Whitehouse Station, N.J., the manufacturer of Gardasil, maintains that its vaccine is extremely safe. Other proponents of the vaccine agree, saying it is well-tolerated. They report that the most common side effects in both men and women are simple pain or swelling at the injection site, headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting and fainting.
But reports of adverse events–health problems that occur after getting a vaccine, which may or may not be related to the medication–for Gardasil are about five times as high as the overall average for any vaccine, according to John Iskander, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s associate director for immunization safety.
In 2009, Gardasil was linked to severe allergic reactions in at least five confirmed cases of young women in Spain and Australia.
Since the vaccine is new, reports on its safety are still emerging. Without enough evidence, though, it can be difficult for concerned parents to make an informed decision. One thing is clear: more research, study and discussion are needed.
Dr. Sharon Ufberg is a highly regarded integrative practitioner and health care journalist. She is an international leader and activist in issues of women’s health and safety and a delegate to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org