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The HPV Vaccine: The Science And The Reluctance

With Anthony Brooks in for Tom Asbhrook

The number of teen girls with cancer-causing HPV, the human papillomavirus, has dropped by half with the vaccine. But two-thirds of girls — never mind boys — still don’t get it. We dig in.

A teen girl receives an intramuscular immunization from a qualified nurse. The CDC says the two brands of HPV vaccine (Cervarix and Gardasil) are "licensed, safe and effective" for both males and females, ages 9 through 26. The vaccine is also recommended for men who have sex with men, through age 26. (James Gathany, Judy Schmidt/CDC)

A teen girl receives an intramuscular immunization from a qualified nurse. The CDC says the two brands of HPV vaccine (Cervarix and Gardasil) are “licensed, safe and effective” for females, ages 9 through 26. Gardasil is also licensed for males, ages 9 through 26 years. Routine vaccination is recommended for boys and girls at age 11 or 12 years and through age 26 for females and age 21 for males who have not been previously vaccinated. The vaccine is also recommended for men who have sex with men, through age 26. (James Gathany, Judy Schmidt/CDC)

If you could inoculate your child against the threat of cancer, why wouldn’t you? The question follows a striking new study about the human papillomavirus.

HPV is the  most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and a major cause of cervical cancer.

The good news is there’s an effective vaccine that has cut HPV infection rates in half. But just one in three American teenage girls have been fully vaccinated.

This hour, On Point: The HPV vaccine and protecting the next generation from cancer.

Guests

Dr. Lauri Markowitz, medical epidemiologist in the Division of STD Prevention and lead researcher for the HPV Vaccine Working Group of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She’s the lead author of the new study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases that found a reduction in HPV among young women.

Dr. Rebecca Perkins, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University School of Medicine. She studies the HPV vaccination and the factors influencing rates of HPV vaccination in low-income adolescents.

Dr. Amanda Dempsey, physician and professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Outcomes Research Program at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She focuses on barriers to implementing recommended childhood and adolescent vaccines, including parental vaccine hesitancy and vaccination policy.

From The Reading List

CDC: HPV Vaccine — Questions & Answers

National Cancer Institute: Human Papillomavirus Vaccines Fact Sheet

The New York Times: Will Parents Still Turn Down An ‘Anti-Cancer Vaccine’? – “The HPV vaccine is not a popular one in the United States. More than 40 percent of parents say their children are not up to date on the HPV vaccine (three doses are recommended over a six-month period for boys and girls aged 11-12), and that they do not intend to seek out the vaccine for their sons and daughters.”

WBUR: Cancer From Oral Sex? Michael Douglas Is Not Making It Up – “A growing body of research suggests that his claim is not entirely far-fetched: Rates of head and throat cancer linked to HPV have been rising dramatically in American men. (File under: Reasons the new HPV vaccines are recommended for boys as well as girls.)”

TIME: HPV Vaccine Doesn’t Lead To Promiscuous Tweens – “Girls who are vaccinated for human papillomavirus (HPV) are no more likely to engage in sexually risky behaviors than girls who don’t receive the vaccine, says a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics.”

Additional Segment: Improving Condoms

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently opened up a competition to design a better condom.

Pam Belluck (@PamBelluck), health and science writer for The New York Times, joins us to talk about her piece, “Getting Men To Want to Use Condoms.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Yar

    Understand the concept “herd health” and you will understand what is wrong with the American Medical Delivery model.  Vaccines should be given in public schools at no additional cost to students. The benefit is to society, even with risks our nation is stronger when we properly treat disease. This goes for exercise as a vaccine as well, one hour per day for all school children K-12. How much money would be saved by this simple measure? How much better would our nation’s quality of life be improved? 

    • creaker

      I remember lining up for shots.

    • Betty Wood

      Please see this article: School Girl Dies after cervical cancer vaccine in school
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/sep/28/hpv-cervical-cancer-vaccine-death

      • Yar

        So? Does that mean we should never vaccinate children? One death in how many vaccinations? Focus on the plus side not the one death.

        • Gary Trees

          Agreed, this is completely unsubstantiated as to the cause of the death.  This could have been purely coincidental, as even the article implies.  Regardless of the cause, this vaccine will save far more lives then it (allegedly) threatens.

        • Tyranipocrit

           what is the plus side for the dead girl and her family?  It seems a gamble to me.  i go in to the doctors office–maybe to save my life, maybe to prevent herpes–but also maybe I might die or end up disabled.  i want to know  i am not going to die or have side effects.  Can you guarantee that?  Can anyone?  No.

          • Yar

            I can guarantee you will die. Is that the guarantee you are looking for?  Life has risks, I believe in statistics. Do you drive after midnight? The chance of dying in a car crash doubles. Vaccines improve overall health.  

          • Tyranipocrit

             You are illogical.  I can drive a safe car.  I can drive defensively.  I trust that most people in a civilized society drive defensively.  I have some control in driving situations.   Many times I have even recognized drunk or restless drivers and steered clear of them–i made a choice.  I observed my surroundings–something we evolved doing. 

            I dont know about the article referenced in these comments.  Im just saying if there is chanc eof death or disability–i wouldnt want to take that risk–its seems retarded to me. 

            But I am new to this societal discussion.  Perhaps, this is negative propatganda disseminated by religious nutters and teaxas longhorns?

            Either way, your logic above (in this conversation) is irrelevent.  Your evlutaion of risk flawed.  The same logic used for smoking for years.  “We’re all gonna die anyway, yuck, yuck, yuck, so shut up and deal with my second hand smoke you liberal weenie.”

            When I get into a car i take the necessary precautions.  I wear my seatbelt.  I drive safely.  i observe the rules.  I can make choices that lagely effect the outcome of my survival.  Putting a vaccine into my body is TRUST–blind faith–its religious.  And I have little to no choice in the outcome.  its a gamble.  Even if the odds are good in my favor–you are still askig me to play russian roulette.

            If a doctor can say–up nope, we diagnosed your DNA and it looks like you are not compatible or your body might  strongly reject this herpe soup cocktail you better not try it–i would feel better.  But they cant do that–they are stumbling in the dark with a needle and hoping for the best.  And making money doing it.

            A little off the point but–we have guns and NO gun laws because a tremendous amount of money is made manufacturing guns and bullets–NOT because of the constitution.  The constitution is meaningless to our corporate-aristcoracy.

            Industry makes laws and determines the practicality of something–not its morality, safety, or intelligence.

      • William_Jamison

        This story illustrates exactly what the anti-vaccine community is doing.

        Here’s a follow-up news article from the BBC indicating that the girl died from a chest tumor that was unrelated entirely from the vaccine.

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8284517.stm

        So, Betty Wood, do your homework before attempting to pass on “useful propaganda”. 

        Thanks.

  • Joseph_Wisconsin

    So will any of the right wingers show up to claim that the HPV vaccination causes mental retardation?

    • Ray in VT

      Well, Michelle Bachmann doesn’t have to spend her time organizing her re-election campaign, so maybe she could drop by.

  • 1Brett1

    I’ve seen more than a few “alternative” medicine proponents, inclined to malign all vaccines (e.g., childhood immunization causes autism, etc.), also produce negative propaganda about the HPV vaccine, including exaggerating and fabricating statements made by researchers who worked on the vaccine that amount to scare tactics.

    Please address this…while there is an inherent risk with any vaccine, they are important tools to keep many diseases in society at bay.

    There seems to be enough genuine controversy about the HPV vaccine without people who have an agenda spreading ignorance and misinformation. 

  • creaker

    Unless you expect your child to grow up sexually inactive, and only marry someone who was just as sexually inactive (and I mean very inactive – open mouth kissing is a vector for HPV transmission), vaccinating is probably a good idea.

  • J__o__h__n

    The vaccine caused a cognitive disability for Michele Bachmann.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      She didn’t get the vaccine, John. That was a “contact disability” she suffered by having one of her friends’ kids getting it.

      • J__o__h__n

        I just wrote it caused it.  I didn’t say she had been vaccinated.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          (Can’t you tell when I’m deadpanning?)

  • John_Severson

    My question is what if you are too old for the vaccine? Its not available to people over 30 as far as I know. Should adults pay more attention to HPV and get tested for it in order to know if they are at greater risk of cancer?

    • creaker

      If you’re a sexually active adult, odds are you have it.

      From CDC web site:

      Is there a test for HPV?

      HPV tests are available to help screen women aged 30 years and older for cervical cancer. These HPV tests are not recommended to screen men, adolescents, or women under the age of 30 years. There is no general HPV test for men or women to check one’s overall “HPV status.” Also, there is not an approved HPV test to find HPV in the mouth or throat.

  • John_Severson

     What about adults and HPV? The vaccination isn’t available to people over 25 or 30 right? Should adults be more concerned and should they be more proactive in getting tested? Do doctors routinely test of HPV and should they?

    • adks12020

      I think women are regularly tested for hpv at their gynecological exams. Men, who knows. As one I know I rarely go to the doctor or get tested for anything.

    • zzowee

      You can get the vaccine if you’re willing to pay for it yourself. The reason it’s not given to those over 26 is that they assume you’ve already been exposed.

      • William_Jamison

        Actually, the reason that those over 26 are not reimbursed by insurance companies is that the vaccine was tested on a group of women aged 15-26. The upper limit of 26 was chosen arbitrarily by the manufacturers, and the FDA was restricted by that choice in its approval criteria.

  • http://www.thisoneisbroken.blogspot.com |k|

    I got the 3-vaccine series in my early 20s when Gardasil first came out in 2006. I had a terrible reaction to the second shot–high fever and chills–but had no other side effects. I don’t know how long the vaccine lasts or if it was worth it, but my insurance at the time covered the cost. (Perhaps there was a copay, I don’t recall.)

  • Betty Wood

    There have been 138 VAERS (physician) reported DEATHS from this vaccine as well as 947 that are permanently disabled, 10,479 Emergency room visits after this vaccine according to VAERS reports.  Please see http://sanevax.org/ for more information – there are good reasons not to vaccinate with this particular vaccine.

    • William_Jamison

      This is incorrect, and sanevax is a well-known vaccine-bashing organization that does its work in the absence of any foundation in science. The vast majority of deaths cited were due to non-vaccine related events that would have occurred whether or not the person was vaccinated.

      • Tyranipocrit

         I know nothing either way.  I have never heard of sanevax.  But can you verify what you are saying?  how do you know the deaths were unrelated?  What is sanevax’s motivation?  What makes your statement credible is what I am saying?  I am asking because I really want to know.  I am not challenging your statement.  I would hope you are right.  But are you doing the same thing the other commenter might be doing–relying on hearsay?  What is your credibility?

        Thanks for your response.

  • ten4nis

    Having teenage boys I’ve never considered the HPV vaccination for them. In the 80′s my college roommate acquired HPV at 19 and was diagnosed with cancer the following year. She was lucky to have it caught early. But now after hearing the actor Michael Douglas’ acquisitions that he believes HPV was responsible for his throat cancer I’ve wondered what scientific evidence is there that this virus might cause cancer in men? Please address this matter. Thanks!

    • http://www.facebook.com/LindaWattsMacDonald Linda MacDonald

       My husband finished a two month round of chemo and radiation this winter after being diagnosed with tonsil cancer due to the HPV virus. He was a healthy guy who found a lump on his throat and was unnerved enough to get it checked out. I had never heard of this but now I’m encouraging my 26 y/o son to the vaccination. My doctor thinks they don’t give it after a certain age or advocate for it for boys because of costs. Both of my daughters got the vaccination without any side effects. I would definitely recommend it for both girls and boys. My husband is 100% cancer free according to his follow-up pet scan but it was a tough few months -imagine radiation to your throat and the difficulty of eating, producing saliva etc. Many people have to get g-tubes because they lose so much weight. On a related note, my  doctor did a pap smear for me but I don’t have the HPV that caused his cancer. This can sit there for a long time!

    • William_Jamison

      A wealth of epidemiologic and molecular data indicate that the same strain of HPV that is most prevalent in cervical cancer in women (HPV16, causes ~50% of cervical cancers) is also most prevalent in head and neck squamous cell cancers in young men (~80% of cases contain HPV16).

  • matcom1969

    I am a 45 year old male. My wife had Cervical Cancer 12 years ago (stage 3). She thankfully was completely cured. I obviously have HPV. Is there anything I should be doing? Is the vaccine available and/or recommended for me?

    • Gary Trees

      Purely for the sake of information, the HPV vaccine is prophylactic (prevents a possible future infection) not therapeutic (fights off an existing infection).  For this reason, anyone already infected with HPV would see no benefits in receiving the vaccine.

      • William_Jamison

        Not entirely correct. For example, if someone is infected with HPV16, which is the most prevalent cancer-causing strain of the virus, the vaccine could still be useful in preventing infections with HPV18, the second most prevalent cancer-causing strain.

        • BostonDad

          Possible, but also might unexpectedly impact existing response to HPV-16, which could lead to unpredictable effects.  I don’t believe this was tested in the registration trials and I would get specialist advice before considering that approach.  Anyway, they were only licensed for use on uninfected people.

          • William_Jamison

            What is meant by “…might unexpectedly impact existing response to HPV-16…”? The available evidence strongly indicates that responses made to each of the various strains contained in the vaccine are robust, with absolutely no evidence of immune interference.

          • BostonDad

             Sure, no issue in large well-controlled prophylactic trials.  Maybe you are aware of data from therapeutic trials not used to license the vaccine.  That would be relevant to this sub-discussion.  Just as one would need to test properly using any prophylactic vaccine against a CHRONIC infection on an already infected population.  (Acute) Flu is obviously different again, as was early RSV vaccine, which failed trials.

  • MurielV

    Can you talk about HPV vaccination for male teenagers

    My son (17 years old) was vaccinated during his annual check-up in June.  Our pediatrician really supports the vaccine and we trust him.  No side effects for my son

    • Gary Trees

      This all sounds good! Be happy that your son is now helping in the fight against this killer!

  • dt03044

    You should proabably mention the comments of Michelle Bachmann if you haven’t already.  There is a lot of misinformation about vaccines in general, and Gardasil in particular.  It does not cause “mental retardation.”

  • re1171

    What about warts?  Will the vaccine eliminate them?

    • William_Jamison

      Merck’s version of the vaccine (Gardasil) is more than 90% effective in preventing anogenital warts.

    • BostonDad

      Prophylactic vaccine.  Given before sexual encounters, stops primary infection. Might slightly increase natural immune response clearing existing genital warts, but not licensed for use on already infected people. Also, only protects against worst HPV causing majority of cervical cancers, plantar warts are unrelated HPV strain.

       Results maybe even better than advertized !  Those who are first to
      actively choose to get the vax might be thought to have a higher
      proportion of those expected or expecting to be sexually active. 
      Apparently not, so no stigma need be attached, or those not getting it
      are parentally and/or self-deluding.  For those of us who’s kids (like my boys)
      who got the vaccine, the key questions the manufacturers need to figure
      out (and they have an incentive !) is how long are the vaccinees and
      their eventual partners protected and when might they need boosters ?  But like all vaccines, they are usually worth getting, but before it’s too late !

  • Emily4HL

    I fully support the vaccine and am vaccinated. One thing I don’t understand:

    Where does the virus originate? Is anyone born with it? If we’re safe until skin to skin contact, how did the first carrier get it?

    • William_Jamison

      The virus “originated” long long ago before vertebrate species differentiated. So many vertebrate species, including humans, have papillomaviruses that infect only them, but are closely related genetically to all other papillomaviruses.

      As to your question of how the first carrier got it, it’s more a matter of how the virus co-evolved with its host. It emerged, and was transmissible, but again, this happened long ago in the history of vertebrate species.

    • zzowee

      It can also be passed from mother to child during childbirth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dawn.estrin Dawn Estrin

    I am an older woman recently divorced….never had any STDS….if i become sexually active again do i need vaccine?  Thanks!

    • zzowee

      If you have not been exposed to the virus and think that you may be in the future it would protect you from getting it.

      The downside is that since the vaccine wasn’t assessed on adults (because the virus is so widely prevalent) insurance plans don’t cover it and the patient is responsible for the full cost.

  • 2teensmom

    For my family, this is solely an issue of safety.  It is very difficult to get information so that I can be fully informed of the risks of the vaccine.  I know there have been studies about the safety, but I want to know all the risks, even the rare occurrences.  I can’t make an informed decision until I have ALL the information.

    • William_Jamison

      The safety data for this vaccine were reviewed by the FDA and it found that the vaccine is safe and effective for preventing the precursor lesions of cervical cancer. That is all the information that’s really necessary to make a decision. 

      As a scientist, I know exactly what the vaccine is and how it works, and also that it is very safe and effective. 

      My children have been vaccinated. Will you protect your children?

  • Bigtruck

    It is a shame that something that can be so helpful can be put into doubt by the failures of big pharma, the doctors on their payroll and the FDA. Not to mention how hard it is to get the independent information I need before I let my son and daughter get the shot.

    • William_Jamison

      This vaccine was developed by scientists that had no connection to “Big Pharma”, so they were not on their payroll.

      And as for the “…failures of big pharma…”, they have consistently developed and brought to market this and many other life-saving vaccines. This is not conjecture, it is established fact. 

      Before you further bash “big pharma” or the academic scientists behind the discovery of this and other vaccines, take a moment to be thankful that you and/or your children don’t have to suffer needlessly and/or die from any of the childhood diseases that are now effectively prevented through vaccination.

      • Bigtruck

        Not bashing anybody. I just want facts before I put something into my kids bodies that can’t be taken out. Not to much to ask. If you have any information to offer or could direct me to information, that would be great.

        As far as the Big Pharma cheerleading, They have done great things and yes I am thankful, but they have also put things into bodies that shouldn’t be there. History is history and once it is in, its too late.

        For your records Gardasil is a Merck property, they’re kind of big. Not necessarily bad just not what you described.

        • Sy2502

          “Big Pharma cheerleading”? Let us know if your daughter is ever in an accident or contracts a life threatening illness and Big Pharma saves her life, then you’ll be “cheerleading” for them too. Vaccines have saved millions of lives since their invention, and there are still people who don’t get it. My mother almost died of diphtheria because she didn’t get vaccinated in time. She survived, but with permanent kidney and heart damage. I never went through that ordeal because I got the vaccine. So yeah, I’ll be cheerleading about that, if it’s ok with you.

          • Bigtruck

             “They have done great things and yes I am thankful” For the bad things I’m not.
            Cheer lead all you want, it is bully with me! I on the other hand will try to be informed. Still, no matter how informed you try to be you can still fall victim to things like Bextra, Vioxx, Avandia there are so many more. Big Pharma pays fines the people pay with their lives.
            We owe it to our families to be vigilant, it is easier than an apology.

            Again any information regarding this vaccine welcome.

          • Sy2502

            Usually “I want more information” is code word for “I already made up my mind and no amount of information will convince me”. Personally I would hold parents that withhold vaccines from their kids criminally responsible if their kids ever get sick. Superstition and ignorance aren’t a good excuse for getting your kids sick.

          • Bigtruck

            Don’t assume things about people you don’t know Sy. If you have access to knowledge about this subject please pass it on.

          • Sy2502

            You obviously have access to Internet. Use it. Why should we do your homework? Besides I am sure you’ll eventually find the “information” you are looking for. Plenty of pseudoscience web sites out there, knock yourself out.

          • Bigtruck

             So after all that you got nothing.

          • BostonDad

             You can go to CDC.gov, the Mayo Clinic, or many other reputable medically-based (and not Pharma-supported) websites.  Good luck !

          • TJtruthandjustice

            “Big pharma” did not support research for or discover the diptheria vaccine or any of other vaccines commonly used to prevent childhood illness. Research was funded by the government and conducted by scientists who rarely if ever made any money off of the results of their endeavors. At $360 per treatment and $1.9 billion in annual sales for Merck, Gardisil is obviously a big and lucrative business for Merck, and is therefore and exception to the rule.   

          • Sy2502

            When will people understand there’s no “big pharma”? Just like there’s no “big bra”, “big carpet” or “big shoe”. Like any other sector, there’s big players, middle players, and small players. All competing with each other. I understand conspiracy theories are cool and all, and make some dull lives more interesting, but a reality check is useful once in a while.

          • TJtruthandjustice

            Give me a break. Conspiracy theories have nothing to do with this conversation. Use of the term is typically a lazy way for people to attack someone making a point without adding any substance whatever to the discussion. Drug companies are among the largest corporations in the US and have deep pockets a huge amount of power when it comes to government legislation. Do you think that lawmakers prohibited states from negotiating prices as part of the Medicare Prescription Drug Act out of the goodness of their hearts? It’s not a level playing field in what’s become a corporatist system in the U.S. The largest corporations have the most power and lawmakers typically report to them and not their constituents.

          • Sy2502

            WHICH drug companies? There’s an uncounted number of them. Are you cherry picking the ones you like to talk about and disregarding all the others by chance?

          • TJtruthandjustice

            My initial comment here referred to Merck and to the fact that Gardisil generates $1.9 billion in annual revenue for them, so whatdayasay we start there. Pfizer has made over $130 billion off of Lipidor, an anti-cholestorol drug that has been linked to muscle weakness and coenzyme Q depletion and for which there is no real proof that taking it does any more good than harm. Proton punp inhibitors like Prilosec bave made drug companies like AstraZeneca hundreds of billions of dollars despite the fact that they are addictive and once you’re hooked, you will automatically get heartburn as a withdrawal symptom if you try to give them up. How’s that for a start? (We can go into estrogen therapy as a follow-up if you’d like).

          • Sy2502

            Whatyou arementioning areindividualincidentsby individualcompanies.Thereis no “big pharmaorganization” that meetsin hooded robes by candle lights, and there’s no Dr Big Pharmawith facial scarsand a catthat lives insidea volcano.Get real. Nothing you said is any different from any other industry.

          • TJtruthandjustice

            You are right. The pharmaceutical industry just like any other for-profit industry with deep pockets and enormous pull on Capitol Hill. Along with Big Pharma, there is Big Finance, Big Defense, Big Energy, Big Insurance and Big Healthcare. Lobbiests for these industry sectors actually write many of our laws verbatim, and prostitutes who pose as federal lawmakers give them their votes in exchange for financial support. You seem to have an overactive imagination when it comes to the meaning of the term. I suggest you do some reading on your own to learn how it all works.

        • Shelley Tucker

          By SHARYL ATTKISSON / CBS/ August 29, 2009, 3:38 PM
          Gardasil Researcher Speaks Out
          A clerk counts Chinese banknotes at a bank in Huaibei, in central China’s Anhui province on June 8, 2012. / AP PHOTO

          23 Comments/1K Shares/377 Tweets/Stumble/EmailMore +
          Amid questions about the safety of the HPV vaccine Gardasil one of the lead researchers for the Merck drug is speaking out about its risks, benefits and aggressive marketing. Dr. Diane Harper says young girls and their parents should receive more complete warnings before receiving the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. Dr. Harper helped design and carry out the Phase II and Phase III safety and effectiveness studies to get Gardasil approved, and authored many of the published, scholarly papers about it. She has been a paid speaker and consultant to Merck. It’s highly unusual for a researcher to publicly criticize a medicine or vaccine she helped get approved. Dr. Harper joins a number of consumer watchdogs, vaccine safety advocates, and parents who question the vaccine’s risk-versus-benefit profile. She says data available for Gardasil shows that it lasts five years; there is no data showing that it remains effective beyond five years. Read Judicial Watch reports on GardasilDr. LaPook’s Story on HPVAttkisson’s Exclusive Report on GardasilThis raises questions about the CDC’s recommendation that the series of shots be given to girls as young as 11-years old. “If we vaccinate 11 year olds and the protection doesn’t last… we’ve put them at harm from side effects, small but real, for no benefit,” says Dr. Harper. “The benefit to public health is nothing, there is no reduction in cervical cancers, they are just postponed, unless the protection lasts for at least 15 years, and over 70% of all sexually active females of all ages are vaccinated.” She also says that enough serious side effects have been reported after Gardasil use that the vaccine could prove riskier than the cervical cancer it purports to prevent. Cervical cancer is usually entirely curable when detected early through normal Pap screenings.Dr. Scott Ratner and his wife, who’s also a physician, expressed similar concerns as Dr. Harper in an interview with CBS News last year. One of their teenage daughters became severely ill after her first dose of Gardasil. Dr. Ratner says she’d have been better off getting cervical cancer than the vaccination. “My daughter went from a varsity lacrosse player at Choate to a chronically ill, steroid-dependent patient with autoimmune myofasciitis. I’ve had to ask myself why I let my eldest of three daughters get an unproven vaccine against a few strains of a nonlethal virus that can be dealt with in more effective ways.”

        • Shelley Tucker
      • TJtruthandjustice

         “Big pharma” did not discover or support reseach of the vaccines that we commonly take to prevent disease.  At $1.9 billion in annual sales and $360 per treatment, Gardisil is a rare exception.

      • Voter

         Actually both Merck and GlaxoSmithKline were paying scientists to develop this vaccine.

  • Shelley Tucker

    The vaccine is safe? There are so many reports of debilitating seizures after these shots. This program is being broadcast because word is getting out that it is not safe and parents are refusing to risk the health of their kids. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/10/16/unproven-hpv-vaccine-safety.aspx
    http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/feds-pay-millions-due-to-deadly-hpv-shot/
    http://www.nvic.org/vaccines-and-diseases/HPV/gardasilaug82006.aspx

    • 1Brett1

      “Statistics” from all three links either don’t use citations or offer statistics that want to argue against what is said as an opposing side’s claims, for example: the HPV vaccine reduces cervical cancer by 70%, without actually supporting a reference to those claims or providing any evidence that such claims are false (albeit they might very well be). There are a lot of claims in the articles, yet the “statistics” provided do not support those claims but sidestep to other points (a common tactic in an unscientific piece designed to malign something). Your claims that the vaccines are unsafe are not supported in any of the links; and, any general claims similar to what you say are anecdotal, at best.

      Are these vaccines any more or less dangerous than any other vaccines? The incidences of problems are quite low. There aren’t any vaccines out there that are 100% safe; does that mean we should not inoculate our children at all with any vaccines? 

      I might be able to see people wanting to argue over when their child should receive this vaccine, and the circumstances under which such a vaccine might be administered. There might well be a healthy debate in that realm.

      However, there has been a lot of negative (and untrue) propaganda spread about this vaccine, including scare tactic statements and distortions attributed to one of the researchers. She has come out against these false statements; essentially, she didn’t say them. 

      My point is that if there is going to be a healthy debate about this vaccine, then ignorant, exaggerated, distorted, and false information that gets perpetuated over and over on the internet needs to stop.

      The scare over childhood vaccines (e.g., that they cause autism) has already prompted a lot of problems in communication and has left parents uninformed, afraid, and willing to not only put their own children at risk but other people’s children, as well. I don’t wish to see such misinformation and hysteria perpetuated.

    • William_Jamison

      These vaccines were investigated meticulously for several years (>10) by trained, honorable and ethical physicians. The adverse events you attribute to vaccination never occurred in the many clinical trials that were performed involving tens of thousands of individuals.

      The only place such events are mentioned is the VAERS database, which is anecdotal in nature. That is, such events are described without evidence to back them up.

      • Shelley Tucker

        Gardasil Researcher Speaks Out
        A clerk counts Chinese banknotes at a bank in Huaibei, in central China’s Anhui province on June 8, 2012. / AP PHOTO

        Amid questions about the safety of the HPV vaccine Gardasil one of the lead researchers for the Merck drug is speaking out about its risks, benefits and aggressive marketing. Dr. Diane Harper says young girls and their parents should receive more complete warnings before receiving the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. Dr. Harper helped design and carry out the Phase II and Phase III safety and effectiveness studies to get Gardasil approved, and authored many of the published, scholarly papers about it. She has been a paid speaker and consultant to Merck. It’s highly unusual for a researcher to publicly criticize a medicine or vaccine she helped get approved. Dr. Harper joins a number of consumer watchdogs, vaccine safety advocates, and parents who question the vaccine’s risk-versus-benefit profile. She says data available for Gardasil shows that it lasts five years; there is no data showing that it remains effective beyond five years. Read Judicial Watch reports on GardasilDr. LaPook’s Story on HPVAttkisson’s Exclusive Report on GardasilThis raises questions about the CDC’s recommendation that the series of shots be given to girls as young as 11-years old. “If we vaccinate 11 year olds and the protection doesn’t last… we’ve put them at harm from side effects, small but real, for no benefit,” says Dr. Harper. “The benefit to public health is nothing, there is no reduction in cervical cancers, they are just postponed, unless the protection lasts for at least 15 years, and over 70% of all sexually active females of all ages are vaccinated.” She also says that enough serious side effects have been reported after Gardasil use that the vaccine could prove riskier than the cervical cancer it purports to prevent. Cervical cancer is usually entirely curable when detected early through normal Pap screenings.Dr. Scott Ratner and his wife, who’s also a physician, expressed similar concerns as Dr. Harper in an interview with CBS News last year. One of their teenage daughters became severely ill after her first dose of Gardasil. Dr. Ratner says she’d have been better off getting cervical cancer than the vaccination. “My daughter went from a varsity lacrosse player at Choate to a chronically ill, steroid-dependent patient with autoimmune myofasciitis. I’ve had to ask myself why I let my eldest of three daughters get an unproven vaccine against a few strains of a nonlethal virus that can be dealt with in more effective ways.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/authormeetingplace Anastasia Cassella-Young

    I had cancerous cells on my cervix so we decided that a hysterectomy (partial) was in order instead of what they call a conectomy (sp?).  I was then told I still had precancerous cells and now that I had HPV. Why wasn’t it caught when I was first diagnosed the precancerous cells? I don’t know why.  Did I have HPV before that? I’ve been married 9 yrs. now with the same partner and we don’t know if either one of us is a carrier as I guess I am now.  I didn’t know there was a vaccine or I would have had it long before this (not knowing when it was developed) and I would have still had it w/o worrying about the side effects or whatever.  All vaccines can cause something and I am on a lot of different medications that have severe side effects that “can happen”.  I think we need urgent advertisement of the HPV vaccine more so than it is advertised now. If I had a daughter she would be vaccinate period.  I believe it is just like having the childhood vaccines. We need it to keep us safe.  I don’t have a clue about the argument but will say had I known there was a danger of contracting HPV I would have asked for it long ago.  I also have been told if you have had genital warts that you already most likely have HPV.  When did I get it and if it was so long ago when did the testing start for it? 

    • Becky Newman Brown

      The strains of HPV that cause warts are not the same as the ones that cause cancer.  Yes they are all HPV, but they are over 100 strains of HPV.

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    they require many vaccines for children these days they should add this to  the list. that said it would be nice to have a longer track record

  • Vax_Choice_Human_Right

    Question the timing. Just last week the Japanese Ministry of Health withdrew support for the HPV vaccines after adverse reactions. Damage Control. 

  • Vax_Choice_Human_Right

    Over 30,000 reactions have been reported since these vaccines were launched. If this were a a pill or a packet of blueberries the product would have been recalled long ago. 

    Policy before people, without conscience or second thought.

  • Ingaorama

    How can they say that the HPV virus has dropped since they do not perform pap smear test on girls until they are 21 year old..
    New guidelines: Pap smears can start at 21http://www.nbcnews.com/id/34046944/ns/health-cancer/t/new-guidelines-pap-smears-can-start/#.Ucz3BrsWRrw    SO …HOW CAN THEY CLAIM THAT IT HAS DROPPED? THEY DO NOT KNOW IF THE GIRLS HAVE HPV BEFORE THEY ARE VACCINATED! SO THE ONLY WAY THEY ACTUALLY COULD MAKE A STATEMENT LIKE THIS IS IF THEY HAD DONE TEST ON THE GIRLS BEFORE THEY ARE GETTING HPV SHOTS! Then they also might find out that if the girls 9-12 year old do already have the HPV virus – so then why giving them the shoots if they have the virus alrady, then they have resistance for the virus! Well..of course they would need to test for just these 2 viruses who are in the shoot- 2 other viruses in the shoot is gentile warts virus. But there are close to 100 HPV virus out there but the vaccine contain only 2 of them..so..all this shooting mania and what if you get some of the others…?  

    • BostonDad

       The vaccines are the most common and serious strains, like the Flu.

  • John Cedar

    After reading comments here I start to second guess my opinion formed last year when the great Bachmann was talking about it.
    Getting my information from the greatest website (Wikipedia), I had learned that the cancer linked to HPV came late in life and was rarely fatal except for in women that skipped all sensible and normal exams throughout their lifetime.

    But now I am reading here, stories of the virus acting to cause cancer much more quickly and in much younger people, in spite of the afflicted participating in normal routine health screenings.

    Knowing that there are many close minded partisan self serving left wing kooks who comment here, I cannot take those stories at face value. But it does give me reason to explore this subject further.

    But in the end, this disease does seem far different from the others that mandate inoculation, simply because of the way it is spread. Mandating that an individual must take the vaccine into their body in order for others to have unprotected sex with less risk of exposure does not sound fair.

    A few years ago, a teenager in our small community died shortly after receiving her second dose. Her mother publicly stated she was sure the cause was the vaccine and she felt guilty for not recognizing the severe reaction to the first dose her daughter received months earlier.

    For all I know, the kid could have died from a drug OD, but as reported, her story certainly sounded plausible.

  • Erin_Vermont

    I found the show helpful.  I am grateful for the discussion, and for the choice of thoughtful, knowledgeable, clear, pithy doctors.

    Anthony Brooks’s refusal to address the doctors by their last names–and, indeed in Dr. Dempsey’s case, even by her full first name–distracted me.  I am still thinking about it today.  It’s just too likely that this habit of Mr. Brooks’s was on display only because his guests were women.  Who can imagine an interview with, say, Dr. Oliver Sacks in which Mr. Brooks would repeatedly address the scientist as “Ollie” while the guest repeatedly identified himself to callers as “Oliver Sacks”? (In yesterday’s case we heard “Mandy” from Anthony Brooks instead of the doctor’s own “Amanda Dempsey”.)

    I see in the show’s instructions for callers that “first names are fine” with On Point, but in yesterday’s situation, the departure from tradition detracted from the show’s credibility.

  • TJtruthandjustice

    I was extremely bothered by the lack of any semblance of balance here. The Gardasil vaccine generates $1.9 billion in annual sales for Merck, yet cost was never even mentioned as a factor by Brooks. At $120 per dose and $360 per treatment, this is big business. Now we are advised that boys should take the vaccine not for their own benefit, but to theoretically protect women sometime in the future, except for the fact that the long-term efficacy of the vaccine is unknown and even its supporters admit that it is only 70 percent effective at best.

    Last time I checked, the American health care system was in crisis in large part because costs are out of control. Here is a simple question that could have been asked: statistically speaking, how many cases of cancer are prevented per dollar spent on this vaccine? What sort of impact would $1.9 billion worth of free condoms have on HPV rates? People are skeptical of the motives of the medical-pharmaceutical-industrial complex for good reason. The only people who seem not to be skeptical are those who comprise the medical-pharmaceutical-industrial complex and the journalists who transcribe for them.

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