Pharmaceutical

New Zealand parents holding off on Gardasil vaccine for their children

New Zealand is the latest country whose parents seem to be playing “wait and see” with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil, joining the UK, France and Canada in delaying or refusing the drug for their children. Canterbury reports the lowest Gardasil vaccination rate in the country for girls aged 12 to 14, according to a recent report by The Press news agency. Parents are opting to wait until their daughters are older to consider the vaccine, the news reports, despite the fact the series of three shots is offered at no cost to them.

Gardasil, manufactured by Merck, is promoted as a preventive treatment against cervical cancer, which is caused by certain types of HPV, which is transmitted through sexual contact. Gardasil protects against four types of HPV, including two that indicate the highest risk of causing cervical cancer. However, the vaccine also has been linked to serious side effects including lupus, autoimmune disorders, seizures and even death following injections.

The news story notes that vaccination rates in Canterbury are less than half that in some other cities, such as Auckland and Wellington, where immunization rates are nearly 40 percent. However, vaccination rates are higher in Canterbury for older girls. Statistics indicate parents are concerned about vaccinating their daughters before the girls are sexually active, but not when they are as young as 12.

Source: The Press