When asked if she believed the Gardasil vaccine presented more risks to girls and women than the possibility of cervical cancer, Dr. Diane Harper, the lead researcher in human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine development told journalist Marcia Yerman that Gardasil has little to no benefit for women who receive Pap screening.
Pap smears are screening tests used by gynecologists to detect cervical cancer cells. Changes in the cell processes signal the development of cervical cancer and prompt the physician to start treatment.
According to Dr. Harper, “Pap smears have never killed anyone. Pap smears are an effective screening tool to prevent cervical cancer. Pap smears alone prevent more cervical cancers than can the vaccines alone.”
“Gardasil is associated with serious adverse events, including death,” Dr. Harper explained. “If Gardasil is given to 11-year-olds, and the vaccine does not last at least 15 years, then there is no benefit – and only risk – for the young girl.”
Without boosters, Gardasil vaccines remain effective for five years.
“Vaccinating will not reduce the population incidence of cervical cancer if the woman continues to get Pap screening throughout her life,” Dr. Harper added.
Dr. Harper told Yerman in a written communication that she disagreed with Merck’s campaign to make the vaccine mandatory for school-age girls.
“The decision to be vaccinated must be the woman’s (or parent’s if it is for a young child), and not the physician’s or any board of health, as the vaccination contains personal risk that only the person can value.”
The choice to receive the Gardasil vaccine “is entirely a personal value judgment,” Dr. Harper said.
When asked about Merck’s “one less” marketing campaign, Dr. Harper told Yerman that it “was designed to incite the greatest fear possible in parents, so that there would be uptake of the vaccine.”
“If women were participating in Pap screening, or if as a parent you educated your daughter to seek Pap screening at the appropriate age (21 years) for her entire life, then she would have been very unlikely to be at risk for being “one” and would not be “one less,” Dr. Harper told Yerman.
“She would not have been ‘one’ to begin with!”
To read the entire interview with Dr. Harper, please click here.