By: Naomi Arnold, The Nelson Mail
1 October 2010
Gardasil, a vaccine that helps to prevent cervical, vaginal and vulval cancers and genital warts, has had a poor pick-up rate in the region over the past year.
Nelson Bays Primary Health statistics show that only 32.8 per cent of girls born between January 1990 and December 1991 had received the full course of three vaccinations to the end of June. Just over 45 per cent had had the first shot and 38.1 per cent the second.
The rates were up slightly compared to the previous quarter but were “disappointing”, Dr Graham Loveridge said. “They are less than encouraging.”
He said the figures didn’t include those from the Independent Nursing Practice or from Murchison, so the numbers might not be exact.
Dr Loveridge said the vaccination programme had suffered from its association with sex, and uptake had been poor throughout the country.
“This one was always going to be a sensitive issue and it didn’t seem to hang together well.
“The time to have [the vaccine] is before you have had a number of sexual partners, which is what exposes you to the virus. Of course, you can’t go around targeting 13-year-olds and saying, `You look as though you’re likely to start having intercourse soon – you’d better have the vaccine’, so it got tainted with all those issues. Were we implying that having your 13-year-old daughter vaccinated meant she was about to start having intercourse?
“In reality, we wanted to say, `The highest-risk girls are the ones having intercourse early – let’s make the best effort we can to make sure they get the vaccine’. But there’s no harm in giving everybody it because sooner or later, those girls are going to have intercourse and be placed at risk [of contracting HPV].”
Girls who started having sex earlier were likely to have more sexual partners over their lifetime, and therefore at more risk of contracting HPV, he said.
Independent Nursing Practice director Annette Milligan said some “quite dramatised accounts” of Gardasil’s side effects were also stopping girls from getting vaccinated. However, the science behind its effectiveness was “pretty hard to beat” and side effects were “very, very rare”.
“It’s very easy for the stories of terror to get across, and I don’t think people think through some of the issues. It’s tragic to see there’s a vaccine available [which] could prevent the transmission of this virus that isn’t being picked up. Our country is missing the boat.”
Ms Milligan said vaccination at an early age could eliminate the need for yearly checks for women after an abnormal cervical smear and prevent invasive checks.
Read the entire article here.
(NOTE: The SaneVax team wants to know who Ms Milligan is and point out this is just the type of mis-information being used to market HPV vaccines. The package inserts for both Gardasil/Silgard and Cervarix clearly state that HPV vaccination DOES NOT eliminate the need for cervical cancer screening. It is our opinion that Ms Milligan needs to make sure her facts are accurate before she makes comments to the public via the press.)