Sunday, September 18, 2011

Another Self-Serving Vaccine Scare

Michelle Bachman’s recent misstatement of fact regarding alleged risks of the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine has created another unwarranted ruckus among parents, this time of Moms and Dads of teen-aged girls.  

There are about 6 million new cases of genital HPV in the United States each year. It’s estimated that 74% of them occur in 15- to 24-year-olds. The vaccine prevents cervical cancer and has been clinically tested since 2006. GARDASIL vaccine is the only human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that helps protect against 4 types of HPV. In girls and young women ages 9 to 26, GARDASIL helps protect against 2 types of HPV that cause about 75% of cervical cancer cases, and 2 more types that cause 90% of genital warts cases. In boys and young men ages 9 to 26, GARDASIL helps protect against 90% of genital warts cases. There have been relatively few reports of adverse effect, the vast majority (92%) of which following vaccination have included fainting, pain, and swelling at the injection site (the arm), headache, nausea, and fever. Serious effects have included Guillain-Barré Syndrome (1-2 cases per 100,000) and blood clots, primarily in young women taking oral contraceptives (the birth control pill), who smoke and are obese.  There have been no reports of neurological damage or intellectual disability associated with the vaccine

Parents of youngsters with autism have been burned by the 1989 Andrew Wakefield autism vaccine scare.  A recent article by Dennis K. Flaherty and immunology expert, refers to this as The alleged autism-vaccine connection is, perhaps, the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years.”  Hopefully most parents have learned their lesson by now, that they should seek information from responsible medical resources, such as the Center of Disease Control or the Food and Drug Administration, starting with their child’s pediatrician, not an unethical politician willing to use any means to score a few points with ill-informed voters, including making unfounded statements terrifying then about their daughters' health care. 

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