Mothers Delay Gardasil For DaughtersMay 6, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP Many American moms are apparently ignoring Merck & Co's. aggressive efforts to convince them that their young daughters must be given the Gardasil human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. A new study has found that only half of American mothers intend to have their teenaged daughters vaccinated against HPV if the girls are under the age of 13, despite government guidelines that suggest the opposite.
Gardasil, approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006 is meant to protect against several forms of the HPV that cause cervical cancer. The vaccine has been much hyped, and Merck has waged an aggressive campaign to convince state legislatures to make it mandatory for girls before they are likely to become sexually active. Recently, 20 states pushed for federal mandates to make Gardasil mandatory for sixth grade girls.
But a lot of moms are don't want their daughters exposed to Gardasil if they are very young. According to research presented Sunday at the Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting in Honolulu, only forty-nine percent of almost 10,000 respondents intended to vaccinate a daughter if she were 9 to 12 years old; 68 percent intended to vaccinate if the daughter was 13 to 15 years old; and 86 percent said they would vaccinate if the daughter was 16 to 18 years of age.
When it was approved, Merck said that Gardasil was virtually side effect free. But some dispute this, and point to adverse events reported to the FDA that seem to be associated with the administration of Gardasil. Supporters of Gardasil argue that it has not been proven that the vaccine had anything to do with any of the reported side effects. But vaccine critics say a link has not been disproved either, and argue that the existence of the reports warrants further study of the vaccine’s safety.
A 2007 analysis by Judicial Watch of Gardasil adverse event reports revealed that there had been at least 3,461 complaints of adverse reactions to the Gardasil vaccine, and there could have been as many as eight deaths attributable to Gardasil. According to Judicial Watch, in several instances, blood clots were reported to have occurred after the administration of Gardasil. The Gardasil side effect reports also included 28 women who miscarried after receiving Gardasil. Other side effects reported to the FDA included paralysis, Bells Palsy, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and seizures were also reported. Oddly, Judicial Watch was only able to obtain the FDA’s reports on Gardasil after it filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the agency. As some have pointed out, Judicial Watch is a conservative organization with an agenda. But Judicial Watch did not fabricate these adverse event reports, and the seriousness of some of them indicate a need for further investigation.
There have also been a handful of deaths that occurred following the administration of Gardasil. Three young women in the US died shortly after receiving Gardasil, while two other women in Europe also died after the vaccine was administered. Despite all of these reports, Merck continues to market Gardasil as virtually side-effect free. Thus far, the FDA has refused to conduct formal safety review of Gardasil.