By AARON DERFEL, Gazette Health Reporter April 27, 2011
MONTREAL – Health Canada’s decision to approve the Gardasil vaccine for women up to the age of 45 has renewed the debate about the purported benefits of the shots and whether they might even be necessary.
Kirkland-based Merck, maker of Gardasil, announced that Health Canada has extended the vaccine’s indication beyond the existing 9-to-26-year-old female age group for the prevention of cervical cancer and genital warts caused by the human papillomavirus.
But McGill University epidemiologist Abby Lippman, a longtime critic of Gardasil, questioned the usefulness of the vaccine.
“For a lot of the older women in that age range, the vaccine may not be at all necessary,” Lippman said.
“We have to avoid calling it a cervical cancer vaccine because there has not been enough follow-up to know if it will really be changing the cancer rates.
“The benefits are still not known right now, in terms of how long protection lasts,” she added.