I’ve detected another round of TV ads touting the benefit of cervical cancer vaccinations. “We chose to help protect ourselves against cervical cancer and other HPV diseases. Now the choice is yours,” women in the ad say. Major guilt trip.
The Minnesota Legislature dabbled with the idea nearly two years ago before the sponsor withdrew the bill. There was already some pushback from some parents who said vaccinating girls against a sexually-transmitted disease was tantamount to saying “it’s OK to have sex.”
There was also some discomfort with some of the cash supporting the pro-vaccination campaigns around the country was coming from Merck, the company that made the drug, Gardasil.
Today, federal researchers report that only 1 in 4 girls have gotten the vaccine. About 4,000 people are dying from cervical cancer every year.
“The overall trends are good news,” said Dr. Lance Rodewald, director of the Division of Immunization Services at the CDC′s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. His study measured progress on four area of immunizations, including the virus that causes cervical cancer.
Part of the reason for the low immunization rate — aside from moral objections — is the cost : about $360. Three doses are required before a girl is sexually active. But a recent study suggests another reason: the vaccine may not be cost effective.
Still, the issue is one where the feds and the state of Minnesota disagree. Federal health authorities recommend the vaccination. The Minnesota Department of Public Health does not recommend it because after five years, the effectiveness is in question.
Some people may not have a choice. A federal rule added Gardasil to the list of vaccinations that female immigrants ages 11 to 26 must get before they can obtain “green cards.”