By: Martha Rosenberg
Even though Merck’s Gardasil and GSK’s Cervarix are highly advertised to doctors and patients, many women are just saying no to the vaccines, according to research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research in Philadelphia last month.
The vaccines protect against the Human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus which causes cervical cancer.
In 2007, 12,280 women in the U.S. were diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,021 died.
Fewer than one-third of 9,658 teenagers and young women who were eligible for the vaccine actually began the three-injection series between 2006 and 2010, according to data analyzed at the University of Maryland. Others started the regimen but didn’t get their second or third injection.
Of course there are many reasons women may veto the vaccine for themselves or their children. Even though the vaccine is nearly 100 percent effective in preventing precancerous cervical lesions and protects against the two HPV strains that cause 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts, it isn’t effective against all HPV strains. It is also not more effective against cervical cancer than a Pap smear and even when it does work, requires a booster. Nor do researchers know how long protection lasts.
The HPV vaccine is also the most expensive of all recommended vaccines at $359.25 for all three doses says Pew Research.
And then there’s the morality issue.
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