The staff comment below is in reaction to news that Guyana will begin immunizing girls 11 years old with Gardasil
Guyana to begin vaccinations to help stem cervical cancer
Tuesday 10th January 2012
I am writing to express my concern about the recently announced plans by Minister of Health Ramsaran to begin mass vaccination of schoolgirls in Guyana with the HPV vaccine on Wednesday, January 11, 2012. To a general public that is scientifically untrained, conditioned or browbeaten into not questioning those in authority, and easily manipulated, this may seem like a good initiative. We are told that HPV caused cervical cancer, and at that dreaded word, everyone is supposed to quietly and obediently line their daughters up for the injection. However, there are many serious issues with regard to this vaccine and proposed campaign that the Guyanese public should be aware of- from a public health as well as child rights perspective.
Speaking first to the public health issues- in my opinion as a trained public health professional and someone with years of experience in this field- this vaccine is unnecessary. The fact is that most HPV infections go away on their own, without treatment, and do not result in cancer. In the United States, where the prevalence of HPV infection is significantly higher than in Guyana, only about 3.4% of all HPV viruses were associated with cervical cancer [Source: http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/297/8/813.abstract?ijkey=85292b84748848d91264576bb538b4148404c962&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha. * Note- JAMA is the Journal of the American Medical Association- a highly credible publication, not some quack source.]
Also problematic is the fact that- with lack of proper public education about this vaccination effort (as happens so often in Guyana)- one of the unintended but inevitable consequences is likely to be that a significant number of sexually active girls and women will mistakenly believe that this vaccine also protects them from other sexually transmitted infections [it does not] and will then not use the appropriate protection or get the necessary testing to really safeguard themselves. So, in addition to being scientifically unnecessary, from a prevention standpoint- this mass vaccination could be even more harmful than helpful.
This vaccination campaign also makes no sense from a cost effective standpoint. Minister Ramsaran said that this was one of the most expensive vaccines in the vaccination programme. The fact is that the incidence of cervical cancer in Guyana (from the questionable data available) does not warrant such mass vaccination. While there have been reports of increasing numbers of cases over the last five years, that is explained by the fact that screening has also increased.
Any competent statistician will tell you that simply observing more of a thing when you’re looking out for it does not automatically mean that you have a problem.
In a country like Guyana when resources are scarce, data collection and statistically-credible, cost-benefit analysis need to be properly done and decisions more carefully made- with an eye towards providing the best possible services and care to the most people, not just looking good in the court of public opinion.
John Wagoner says
I know if I raise objections to a vaccine there are certain people who will try to discredit me with various tactics, such as name calling, branding me a nut or such. I expect bigoted comments from these comments.
There are several assumptions about HPV vaccines and their ability to protect against cervical cancer: that the HPV vaccine is effective; that the HPV vaccine is safe; that the HPV vaccine is necessary; that there are no alternatives to the HPV vaccine.
EFFECTIVE AGAINST OVARIAN CANCER ? UNPROVEN !!
Merck, the manufacture of Gardasil has been forbidden by the FDA to market this vaccine as a anti cervical cancer vaccine. It is marketed as a vaccine for HPV. There are no clinical trials which would establish efficacy as a treatment for cervical cancer. Why ? Because a clinical trial would take about 50 years, as Girls inoculated with the vaccine would have to be tracked though about age 60, as cervical cancer does not show up early. Any claim that the HPV vaccine is a cervical cancer vaccine is based on ignorance, or gross speculation.
This vaccine is only good for 70 percent of the known virus strains, and its dangerous to give it to anyone already exposed to a strain of HPV. There is no pre-testing of people given the vaccine to see if they are already exposed, this based on the assumption that the virus is only transmitted sexually. Because they do not test for HPV exposure, the vaccine is not available to older women.
In 2009, Dr. Diane Harper, lead researcher in HPV at University of Minnesota Gynecological Cancer Prevention Group went on record stating that the rate of serious adverse reactions to the HPV vaccines was greater than the rate of cervical cancer. These reactions include death ( so far over 60 reported ) and permanent sever disabilities ( over 300 reported ) ( numbers are for the U.S. ) In other words, there are more problems caused by the vaccine than cervical cancer. Treatment of cervical cancer, according to the CDC, has a success rate of about 75 percent. There is no known treatment for death caused by this vaccine.
The affect of this vaccine on fertility is unknown, and likewise, it is unknown if this vaccine itself could cause cancer in humans.
INFLATED CLAIMS OF CANCER RATE
Proponents of HPV vaccinations like to cite the world wide rate of cervical cancer to scare people into accepting HPV vaccines. They fail to mention the rate for the U.S. where regular screening occurs is much lower. According to the CDC for the U.S. cervical cancer represents one percent of all cancers, about ten thousand per year, with a twenty five percent mortality rate.
Testing a potential partner for STD is an alternative not generally suggested. There is an assumption that HPV infections are inevitable.
TRUSTING FDA, MERCK ?
Since the approval process was accelerated for pharmaceuticals products ( drugs, appliances, vaccines ) as instituted in the Clinton administration, one quarter of all approved products have been recalled and banned. Why ? Because they either kill people or are ineffective. Take Merck’s Viox for example. Viox was allowed to be on the market for five years, killing somewhere between thirty five thousand and one hundred thousand people via heart attack. To put this in perspective that is approximately three to five times the rate of death than the current rate of death for cervical cancer. Merck has great incentive to make a killing off Gardasil vaccine, as it has to pay for the wrongful deaths caused by its Vioxx drug. Now we are supposed to trust Merck and the government that the deaths associated with HPV vaccines are purely coincidental ? That’s the same nonsense that they clung to for years with Vioxx, while people died. Does the Leopard change its Spots ? I don’t think so. Death and disability are apparently part of the cost of doing business in the trillion dollar pharmaceutical industry.
Just say no the the unproven, unsafe, and unnecessary HPV vaccines that are promoted to be cervical cancer cures. Taking an unproven cure from a disease that may be occur thirty five years later is unprecedented. Why risk death and disability of the youth ? This promotion of the HPV vaccine as a ‘cure ‘ for cervical cancer assumes there will be no advancements in medicine in the next thirty five years, so go with this risky, unproven treatment we have today. This is pure nonsense.
I think its ironic, that the mainstream medical industry holds the double blind, controlled clinical trial as the gold standard for proving efficacy, and would condemn any alternative that doesn’t provide this scientific testing ( and a list of ingredients ) as snake oil or quack medicine, but does not hold the HPV vaccines to the same standard.