This past year there has been a lot of buzz in the news about the latest vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer. And of course the question is, do our daughters need it?
Let’s look at some facts. About 13% of American women are currently infected with human papilloma virus (HPV). There are only about 11,000 new cases of cervical cancer in a given year. Thus only a small percentage of women infected with HPV actually develop cervical cancer.
Just how effective is the vaccine? The New England Journal of Medicine published a study which showed that the vaccine was only 17% effective in preventing grade 2 cervical cancer and was not effective at all in preventing grade 3 cancers. They attributed this failure to disease caused by viral strains not present in the vaccine (the vaccine includes only 2 of the 15 strains of HPV that cause cancer).
What are the side effects? As of May 2007 there have been over 1600 adverse vaccination reactions reported. These include 371 “serious” reactions such as paralysis, Bells’ Palsy, Guillan-Barre Syndrome, and seizures. In addition, three girls died soon after the vaccine was administered – one within 3 hours of the vaccine.
As with all vaccines, parents need to base their decisions as to whether or not to vaccinate on all the facts.