[SaneVax: Doctors in India appear to have many questions about HPV vaccine safety, efficacy and need. The lack of official government response to their questions has apparently led to a free-for-all situation with some refusing to administer Gardasil or Cervarix and others telling their patients it is mandatory.]
Docs advise caution on cancer vaccine
By Prithvijit Mitra, TNN
KOLKATA: Is it safe to administer the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine that prevents cervical cancer? The question has been doing the rounds ever since a few private hospitals in Kolkata launched lodgeda campaign to promote it, despite the fact that the efficacy and effects of HPV remain doubtful.
Two years after it had been withdrawn by several states following a few vaccination deaths, the HPV vaccine remains out of the recommended vaccine schedule. Doctors, however, are free to recommend it as an optional vaccine. So far, the state health department has not issued any guideline on its use.
In the absence of any instruction on its use, some private hospitals have been aggressively promoting a couple of HPV vaccine brands and some are allegedly being included in the compulsory vaccine schedule. It has been alleged that they are even including it in the compulsory vaccine schedule.
“Even though there is no bar on the use of HPV vaccine, the brands need to be cleared by the directorate of drug control. Also, it must be clearly mentioned that the vaccine is not compulsory and might have limited efficacy. The vaccine can’t be barred altogether unless the Union health ministry decides to do so,” said Asit Biswas, director of state heath services.
In 2010, the vaccine had been withdrawn after six deaths in two states. It was observed that it had been hurriedly administered and its use was ‘unethical’. Though the ban was later lifted, but the vaccine is yet to make it to the compulsory vaccination schedule.