Sunday, October 28, 2007

Why Cervical Cancer Innoculations Should Not be Mandatory

Remember when the vaccine was developed to protect against the virus that causes cervical cancer? And remember the drive by Merck Pharmaceutical to make inoculations of 12-year-old girls mandatory?--a campaign assisted by by too many politicians and media commentators for what appeared to me to be political reasons involving the culture struggles over sexuality. At the time, I opposed making the cervical cancer shot mandatory for 12-year old girls on the principles that children should not be treated without parental consent and that with there always being a slight chance of side effects with any medical intervention, inoculations should only be mandatory for infectious diseases, e.g., smallpox, measles, etc.

Well, now it turns out that the shots may have caused a few deaths and serious illnesses, and moreover, that the drug may have been tested on adults only for safety--knowledge which which should have made been part of any informed consent of a patient--or the patient's parents--taking the shots. From the story in the UK's Telegraph:

Fears have been raised over the safety of a cervical cancer vaccine which health officials plan to give all 12-year-old girls, after it was revealed that the drug has been linked to several deaths.

Three young women are reported to have died days after the drug Gardasil was administered, while the jab is also suspected of triggering "adverse reactions" in 1,700 patients. The figures were uncovered by campaigners who made a freedom of information request in the US, where the vaccine was approved for use a year ago.

The women--aged 12, 19 and 22--suffered heart attacks or blood clots after being injected with Gardasil, which protects against the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus which causes most cases of cervical cancer. [Me: 12-year-olds aren't women, they're girls.] Hundreds of others reported suffering what could be adverse reactions, including paralysis, seizures and miscarriages.

Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, which extracted the data, said: "Reports on the vaccine read like a catalogue of horrors."

It is, of course, quite possible that the inoculations were coincidental to the deaths and illnesses, and the company strongly denies any connection. But there needs to be some more digging here, and certainly, children should not be required to take the shots. That decision should be up to parents.

It will be interesting to see whether American media pick this story up or whether they are so invested in the politics of the matter that they will erect yet another news blockade.

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10 Comments:

At October 29, 2007 , Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

Even a 19-year-old and a 22-year-old. It makes me wonder if anybody should be getting this vaccine. At a minimum, a woman should be remaining chaste and only even _considering_ it if her husband-to-be has reason to believe he is a carrier of the virus. This certainly sounds like it has a greater incidence of major side effects than vaccines for measles, etc.

 
At October 29, 2007 , Blogger JacqueFromTexas said...

There are countless reasons to oppose mandatory cervical cancer vaccinations. My main reason, though, is that I'm personally hurt and offended at what this says to and about our little girls. What an affront to their dignity!

By the way, I'm looking forward to hearing your talk at the Symposium in Toronto. I'm hoping for some good material for my dissertation on medical futility policy.

 
At October 29, 2007 , Blogger T E Fine said...

Not everyone gives up being chaste after they hit fifteen, yanno. Why should there be a blanket requirement for this among little girls (twelve years old for pitty's sake!) if there's no evidence those girls will be in a position to get the virus?

 
At October 30, 2007 , Blogger LifeEthics.org said...

Gardasil is made the same way that insulin is made these days - recombinant DNA, in this case, common bakers' yeast makes the proteins that cause the immune response.

We give tetanus ("lock jaw") and Hepatitis B vaccinations to our kids because of the lives they can save, although they are very unlikely to be contracted at school and not through casual contact.

This article from the Canadian Medical Association Journal contains a table showing the numbers of serious events and the numbers of deaths in several studies on the use of the HPV vaccine.

Even the first trial involved 1200 girls between the ages of 9 and 15. It was found that the younger girls had a stronger immune response.

Association does not equal causation and the VAER reports hardly equal association. They’re really bad examples of “reports.” Those reports of deaths and injuries from Gardasil are poorly documented. The VAERS reports of deaths are especially poor evidence.

Only one of the VAER reports appears at all plausible as a report that could be consistent with the vaccine actually documented and associated. Most are “a nurse heard from a nurse that . . . further information requested.” One “death report” actually says the patient “may or may not have expired.”

You can read the reports yourself at the VAERS site, using HPV4," checking "YES" at "Death?," and "Sort by submission date."

The great majority of the adverse effects in the reports include pain, redness, and tingling at the injection site and fainting and headaches.

People often faint and complain of headaches after seeing a needle, even without being stuck. It looks awful sometimes, like a seizure.

 
At October 30, 2007 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

Lifeethics: I didn't say that children shouldn't be given the innoculation. I said it shouldn't be mandatory and the decision should be up to parents, who deserve to make the call with fully informed consent or refusal based on accurate and full disclosure of benefits and potential harms.

I believe that tentanus is not mandatory, but of course, very highly recommended.

I don't believe in mandatory medical care unless there is a public health requirement.

 
At October 30, 2007 , Blogger T E Fine said...

Wesley -

I don't know about everywhere else these days but I do know that before you go into high school here in Texas (at least in the Houston area, tentanus shots *are* mandatory and the school system can cause havoc for parents if they don't have the injection updated regularly.

 
At October 30, 2007 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

Tabs: As I think about it, that is because tetanus kills quickly. And it is easy to get while playing.

This virus does not cause cancer quickly and may never lead to the disease. The impetus is not nearly as strong and the rights of parents to decide for their children must be paramount.

Thanks for the correction.

 
At October 30, 2007 , Blogger T E Fine said...

No prob - was just pointing it out.

And there are safer alternatives to Gardsil that will prevent the cancer causing virus - this is an area where parental involvement means more than unnecessary innoculation.

 
At October 31, 2007 , Blogger LifeEthics.org said...

Still, the claims of harm and lack of research on girls are overblown propaganda and hype.

Texas has a fairly decent opt out provision on our mandatory vaccines. It got better after our Governor made it more well-known. I keep having to argue in favor of it at the Texas Medical Association reference committees. Along with parental notification and a few other items on the totalitarian docs' lists.

I can't imagine a State that would tolerate mandatory vaccines without an opt out. Are there any?

I do object to making any opt-out only accessible under religious objections.

The family is the basic unit of our society, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Still, I've participated in one blood transfusion court order for a new born whose parents were Jehovah's Witnesses, and I'd do it again. I wouldn't tolerate female genital mutilation, and would report the parents for their abuse.

Also, while I figure the Lord had a reason for male circumcision (we had our son circumcised), I swore 10 years ago never to do them again. If I can't arrange someone else to do it, the family will have to wait until they can. (That's the only time I have had panic attacks. The nurses and I were never sure whether I'd pass out before I finished. Even though I taught the local pedies to use local anesthesia and, thank the Lord, I never had a bad outcome in the hundreds I did do.)

 
At October 31, 2007 , Blogger JacqueFromTexas said...

Still, the claims of harm and lack of research on girls are overblown propaganda and hype.

Even if there were no physical side effects, the pain of the needle stick and blow against my character, virtue and purity are enough to oppose the vaccine.

I'm 27 and have never exposed myself to HPV and never intend to. Therefore, I'll pass on the ostentacious shot assuming me a woman of ill-repute. Moreso I oppose giving the shot to little girls that are too young to have any sort of repute.

 

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