Beginning this fall, all young girls entering the 6th grade in Virginia schools are "required" to have been vaccinated with the controversial HPV vaccine, Gardasil. However, there is an "opt-out" provision which allows parents to reject the vaccine for their daughters.
Just last week, two new reports were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which have set off much debate over the safety of this drug that is supposed to protect young girls.
According to one report, it seems Merck minimized the sexual tranmission of HPV and overemphasized the risk of cervical cancer to adolescents. Merck's marketing scheme issued broad statements warning that all women are at risk of cervical cancer.
However, nearly all cervical cancer is known to be caused by HPV, which is a sexually transmitted disease (i.e., transmission is primarily through sexual contact with an infected person). It includes over 100 viral strains, about 40 of which cause genital infections. Of those 40, there are at least 18 viral strains known to be "high-risk" cancer-causing strains.
Gardasil contains only two of those high-risk cancer-causing strains and two of the low-risk strains that cause genital warts. Unfortunately, the message young women may perceive is that if they are vaccinated they will be protected against all cervical cancer. This is just one of many growing concerns about this vaccine and its misleading advertising.
Another report claims there have been 32 deaths linked to Gardasil. However, the study included only adverse events reported through December 31, 2008. Since then, there have been even more deaths, increasing the known total to 48 Gardasil-linked deaths. Other adverse events linked to Gardasil are blood clots, autoimmune disorders, neurological disorders, Gullaine Barr Syndrome, and 2 reported cases of Lou Gehrig's disease.
While the CDC, FDA and Merck are still affirming Gardasil's safety, many are calling for further investigations looking into the cause of these deaths, as well as the other adverse events and their link to Gardasil.
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