Monday, July 07, 2008

HPV Vaccine Update: Dangerous to Girls?

Readers of SHS will recall when the HPV vaccine first came out and with it, a great political push made by business interests and those of a certain cultural persuasion that expected (wanted?) teenage girls to be sexually active to require all girls to receive the vaccine. That effort stalled, and from my perspective, that's a good thing on several levels. One is that the vaccine may have serious side effects. From the story:

Ault explains why youth is key. Human papillomavirus is sexually transmitted, "so one of the advantages of giving it to adolescents is that they are unlikely to have been sexually active, so they will not have been exposed to the virus before getting the vaccine." Another reason to do this early, Ault points out, is that "our immune system is a lot better when we are 11 than when we are, say, at 22."

Ault also suggests that parents could use this experience to teach their children about sex and, even more important, about the realities of life, such as sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

These arguments aren't convincing to some parents, the ones that are choosing not to have their daughters vaccinated. There are several reasons for doing this, including religious beliefs. Some faith-based groups feel the vaccine is inviting their young daughters to become sexually active.

Others believe the drug is just too risky. CDC spokesman Curtis Allen says the vaccine is constantly being monitored by a joint CDC /FDA hotline. Parents, patients and physicians can call the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, to report any adverse reaction to the vaccine.

Through a Freedom of Information Act petition, the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch got records from VAERS that showed three deaths in girls who'd had the vaccine in March-April 2007 and over 1,600 adverse reactions reported from June 2006 to April 2007. All said the response came after getting the HPV vaccine.

Allen cautions restraint in considering the reports. "Most of these reactions were minor," he said, and the deaths "were linked to circumstances not related to the vaccine." The CDC and the FDA are constantly monitoring the VAERS hotline and won't hesitate to act should they see any dangerous trends due to the HPV vaccine, he said.

That might not sound alarming, but as reported in US News and World Report, one father thinks that the vaccine caused his daughter's paralysis.

Don't get me wrong: The issues for me have never been the vaccine, but the attempted coercion and the increasing effort to remove the control of their children's medical care from parental control.

If parents want to vaccinate their daughters, more power to them. But the lesson here is that mandatory vaccination, when the disease is not widely communicable and the vaccine is new, should be very carefully considered.

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8 Comments:

At July 08, 2008 , Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

Note: At this point it is guaranteed to work for five years. They are advising it be given to girls 11 to 12 years old. Makes ya' think. I have seen an argument that you should give it to your chaste 11-year-old, because then she will be protected at the age of (say) 21 or older when she is getting married. But in fact, there is no clear evidence that she will in fact be protected ten years later. And usually there isn't with new vaccines. They basically wait and see how long the vaccine is good for, because at the outset they don't know. I have seen the argument that the reason it is a good idea to give it to an 11-year-old is because 11-year-olds have a stronger immune response than ordinary people. But if the child is not expected to be sexually active during the five-year window of guaranteed protection, this point is irrelevant. As of now, there is no evidence whatsoever that an 11-year-old who gets vaccinated and never has sex until she is 21 is better protected than a woman who never has the vaccination and never has sex until she is 21 and then gets the vaccination regimen at age 21 during the six months before getting married, if she has reason to believe her future spouse has been or may have been exposed. In fact, if a booster shot is needed and the first woman does not get one, she may be _less_ well-protected by the time she is having intercourse than the second woman.

 
At July 08, 2008 , Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

Here's a parallel to make the point clearer: Suppose that you think that your child _might_ grow up and go to a foreign country and be exposed to some disease at that time. Would you get a vaccination at the age of 11, a vaccination guaranteed only for five years, just because of the stronger immune response of the 11-year-old, in the hopes that this would still be protective _if_ he went to the foreign country in adulthood? Would any parent do this even if the vaccination was painful, had unpleasant side effects, and had some reports of dangerous adverse reactions? Of course not.

In fact, it's obvious: The only reason anyone does this is because they expect the kids to be sexually active in the 5 years after they turn 11 or 12.

 
At July 09, 2008 , Blogger A. Josef said...

Have you all ever heard of rape? It actually happens A LOT, believe it or not. Even to adolescent girls.

Do you honestly think that having a girl get a shot and explaining to them that it is because if she ever has sex or is raped that she could get a fatal disease from it is going to encourage her to have sex?

Get real!

 
At July 09, 2008 , Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

I'm saying that the argument for giving it to 11-year-old girls whom one does not expect to be sexually active is weak, and that it is obviously being urged for this age because of the expectation that teenage girls will be sexually active. That's what I'm saying, and that's all I'm saying.

If parents really think it's very plausible taht their daughters will be raped, they have a lot more problems than HPV. Would they get them a vaccination (if one were available) for syphilis, gonorrhea, and so forth, on the same grounds? "She might be raped." No one gets a vaccination solely for that reason. Get real.

Again, the only reason this is being urged for girls of this age is because everyone _in fact_ expects American teenage girls to be having sex. Whether that encourages them to have sex or not is a different question and one I'm not addressing in what I've said so far. I have opinions on that issue as part of the whole "comprehensive sex education" package and the message it sends, but that isn't my point here. I'm just saying here that parents of, say, Christian homeschooled 11-year-olds are being sold a bill of goods if they think they should get this vaccination *even though they have no reason to expect their child to be having sex as a teen*.

 
At July 09, 2008 , Blogger viking mom said...

I started my teen daughter a few years ago on the series of vaccines girls have to take for the CANCERS that can be transmitted to GIRLS in sexual activity

(tho at that time, I got the impression the HPV vaccine SERIES would protect her in her 20's - in case she made bad choices then.)

Now, what a waste of her time!

Hopefully she will not experience any longterm effects.

And no, she (now 17) has not been sexually active to date. She is in other activities which will actually build up (and not - shatter) her self exteem and her physical health.

The cultural mentality towards teen girls is that of a pimp towards his stable...Push behavior (too early sex) which has a TRUCKLOAD of possible physical and emotional bad consequences - especially for girls.

And then attempt to minimize the DAMAGE by this ineffectual vaccine,(only a 70% effectiveness rate) or by abortion, or some other lame patch job.

Encouraging virginity (or secondary virginity in those who are coming out of the sexual hookup culture) is the medically and psychologically sound option..
Encouraging virginity (and developing a sense of responsibility) in the male partners is just as mportant.

 
At July 09, 2008 , Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

To be fair, it's not that they know it's _not_ effective past five years, but just that they don't know and are guaranteeing its effectiveness only for five years. But unless and until they get more data, I would think that this would mean a young woman shouldn't trust it after five years.

 
At July 09, 2008 , Blogger viking mom said...

So what is KNOWN of this series of shots to PARTLY reduce the chance of getting cervical cancer from a common STD from sexual activity? (tHERE IS A 30% FAILURE RATE LAST I HEARD)

Will these HPV shots be something that (in a few years) the womens' doctors will ask (ALONG WITH OTHER POSSIBLE HEALTH RISKS) about on the pre screening questionnaires?

(Some women's health questions I've answered included the fertility drugs I had taken earlier. I then asked my fertility doctor why had noone told me of the possible adverse consequences of this optional drug.
SHE HAD NO ANSWER.)

Unlike the loud publicity on AIDS in the 1980's, I hear LITTLE WORD on this serious CANCER risk hitting young women.

 
At July 09, 2008 , Blogger viking mom said...

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