Parents advised to cautiously weigh pros and cons of Gardasil vaccine

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently added Gardasil to its list of recommended vaccines for young men starting at age 9, for the prevention of genital warts. The vaccine, which protects against four strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) already was recommended for girls by the age of 11 or 12 as a preventive measure against cervical cancer. However, parents should carefully weigh the pros and cons of this relatively new vaccine, which was approved by the FDA in 2006. Thousands of adverse event reports are attached to the vaccine, and it has been linked to more than 50 deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 32 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed in the United States since about September 2010. They argue that the more than 17,000 reports of serious adverse events – including things like immune deficiencies, Lupus, seizures, and blood clots in addition to the reports of deaths following administration of the vaccine – make up a relatively small percentage of the total number of doses given.

But do parents really want to take a gamble on that kind of risk?

Until recently the vaccine has been given exclusively to girls, with no recommendations for its use in boys. Now that the market has been expanded to include children of both genders, it’s frightening to imagine the possible consequences.

According to information about HPV found at WebMD, the infection is very common, affecting about 20 million people in the U.S. HPV could cause genital warts or abnormal changes in the cervix and other genital areas that can lead to cancer. However, for most people, the body will clear HPV infection on its own. Women are encouraged to get a gynecological examination and Pap smear annually as the best way to detect and treat pre-cancerous cells, whether or not they have ever received the Gardasil vaccine.

Because the vaccine only prevents against a fraction of the types of HPV, and because the vaccine’s efficacy is only 5 years from the point of vaccination, receiving the shots does not guarantee a person will never develop HPV.

Parents who are considering whether to include Gardasil when choosing vaccinations for their child should ask themselves, “Is the relatively limited benefit of this vaccine really worth the risk?”

Source: Yahoo! News