I am sure many of you have seen the commercial for Gardasil, Merck's HPV vaccine that was approved by the FDA in 2006 to prevent cervical cancer in women ages 9-26. Gardasil protects against 4 types of HPV, including 2 types (16 and 18) that cause 70% of cervical cancer cases and 2 more types (6 and 11) that cause 90% of genital warts cases. I know several young women who have gotten this vaccine in an effort to further protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases. Just last week, Bloomberg news reported that the FDA cleared the vaccine for use in males as well.
Call it fear, call it whatever you want. I'm just not comfortable with it. This vaccine was approved in six months by the FDA, and its efficacy rate has only been measured up to five years. Although I don't doubt Merck's reliability, (given the englightening Vioxx debacle) I can't quite get on board with a vaccine that does not detect much more than an annual pap smear. Also, as time goes on, Merck continues to expand the side effects and had to recently change the labeling to include fainting and seizures.
That being said, I am all for individual choices. I fully support having the option to get the vaccine if I so desire, and I respect those who believe this vaccine is the best way to fight cervical cancer. However, once the government decided to make Gardasil mandatory for immigrants, it went too far. How can the CDC liken an HPV vaccine to one for the measles or chicken pox where children can actually spread the disease just by common interaction? And if the vaccine isn't mandatory for US citizens, what kind of judgment is the American government making about immigrant women? Welcome to the United States where we will deny you entry if you don't get a vaccine that we cannot guarantee is safe for our own people. Let freedom ring.