A study published in the current online issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine affirms the safety of the HPV quadrivalent vaccine, also known as Gardasil (or Silgard in Europe), is marketed by Merck. The vaccine prevents the transmission of certain types (pdf) of human papillomavirus (HPV), specifically types 6, 11, 16 and 18. HPV types 16 and 18 cause approximately 70% of cervical cancers, and cause most HPV-induced anal, vulvar, vaginal, and penile cancers.
The large study, which included nearly 200,000 young females who had received the vaccine, found that the vaccine was only associated with same-day syncope (fainting) and skin infections in the two weeks after vaccination. These findings support other large studies that also found the vaccine safe and an appropriate strategy to prevent cervical cancers. The authors stated that, “this study did not detect evidence of new safety concerns among females 9 to 26 years of age secondary to vaccination with HPV4.”
In an article in Science News, lead author Nicola Klein, MD, PhD, co-director and research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center in Oakland, Calif, stated that,”taking into account all the analyses, subanalyses and relevant medical record reviews, an independent safety committee noted that there may be an association between HPV4 vaccination and same-day syncope, as well as skin infections during the two weeks after immunization.” Fainting is not an unexpected result with vaccinations reported the authors, because injections of all types are correlated with fainting.
The study’s strengths, a large, ethnically diverse population who received a total of nearly 350,000 HPV4 doses; an integrated health care delivery system (Kaiser-Permanente) that assured complete or near-complete medical information and follow-up; and a “pre-specified, validated, clinically meaningful system to categorize all outcomes.”
This study is powered in a way to find causal links to vaccinations as opposed to anecdotes, since patients are closely monitored after the vaccinations. The results strongly confirm the safety of this important vaccine and set aside the rumors and gossip that have floated across the internet about Gardasil.
Let’s repeat what was found in this study. 350,000 doses given. The only adverse reactions were fainting, an expected outcome from any needle injection, and skin infection, another expected (and preventable) outcome. So, in a well controlled study, where the patients could be observed carefully in a modern healthcare environment, no dangerous adverse events were observed. A vaccine that can prevent cancers–dangerous, life-threatening cancers–is safe.
So, who are you going to believe, a website that publishes anecdotes, or worse yet, lies? Or a huge, scientific study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, one of the premier medical journals in the world? Unless you prefer pseudoscience, the answer should be easy.
Gardasil Saves Lives.
Circumcision is one topic that certainly brings up more emotion than just about any medical procedure. In fact, the same level of rhetoric is used for and against circumcision that one hears with regards to vaccines, or even abortion. Recently, the city of San Francisco attempted to ban the practice, but a judge ruled that only the state could regulate medical procedures. During the summer, a German court banned circumcision for religious purposes, though a German court banning a Jewish practice must have blown up irony meters across the world.
In any discussion about circumcision, there is general consensus that female circumcision, or female genital mutilation, is an abhorrent non-medical procedure that is simply an anti-female procedure in many male-dominated societies. We’re not talking about that, and any comparison between male and female circumcision is a strawman argument. It is also clear that part of the anti-circumcision argument centers around secularism and atheism, because male circumcision is integral to both the practice ofJudaism and Islam. That is a valid argument, and there could even be a concern that unskilled individuals performing ritual circumcisions could cause serious complications. I personally could care less about religious rituals as long as they don’t harm anyone, so this is where we need to determine what the evidence tell us.
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