The Malaysian governments recent initiative to vaccinate children against cervical cancer has come as a bit of shock to me and to many Malaysians.
On the face of it, it looks good, to vaccinate girls against what could potentially be a life-threatening disease.
However, besides the obvious fact, that this probably is going to be used to enrich some government UMNO crony to supply Gardasil to the government there are other reasons to be worried about this recent decision.
Of course Gardasil isn’t the only vaccine for this, and I will fully admit we don’t know if it’s Gardasil yet. But that’s the point, aren’t we uncomfortable not knowing the details?
Here are 10 facts you should know before you send your daughters for their shot. 10 important facts that should at least prompt you to research further before you go jumping in and injecting young Malaysian girls with a vaccine that some medical experts believe to be more dangerous that the disease it’s supposed to be protecting you against.
1) According to a CNN report there have been 9700 ‘adverse’ reaction to Gardasil and another 21 deaths following the vaccination. (although none of these deaths were directly linked to the vaccine)
2) In the same report (available on the link above) Gardasil was cited as a ‘probable cause’ that triggered the young girls auto-immune disease.
3) Gardasil is made by Merck. The same company that gave us the wonderful drug Vioxx.
“About 50,000 people have sued Merck claiming that they or their family members have suffered medical problems such as heart attacks or strokes after taking Vioxx” (source here)
Vioxx was touted as a wonder drug for arthritis, but soon side effects that cause cardiovascular problems were discovered AFTER it’s release into the mass market.
4) According to the CDC, Gardasil has been tested in more than 11,000 females 9 to 26 years of age in many countries around the world.Of course it failed to state that this age is not exactly the age in which cervical cancer presents itself. It’s like giving cholestrol medication to those aged 9-26, see no instances of heart attack and claim you have a miracle drug for prevention of heart disease. How many 9 year old girls do you know have cervical cancer?
5) Gardasil has been linked to paralysis and even death in girls and women who received the vaccine. One girl developed a degenerative muscle disease 15 months after receiving the vaccine and two lawsuits have now been filed against Merck & Co., the maker of Gardasil, alleging the vaccine caused paralysis in two other girls. (source here)
6) We’re not the first to recommend that Gardasil be administered through a state sponsored program. On February 2, 2007, Texas Governor Rick Perry issued an executive order requiring that all Texas schoolgirls receive a questionable vaccine, Gardasil, to prevent a sexually transmitted disease known as HPV. On April 26, 2007 both houses of the Texas Legislature sent a veto-proof bill, requiring two-thirds majorities, to the Governor rescinding his mandate. Gov. Perry had suffered a severe political rebuke
7) Gardasil isn’t cheap. The Texas initiative was estimated to have cost upward of 60 million US dollars for 170,000 girls. That’s roughly Rm210 million. Whose contract is this going to be?
8) Even with it’s high cost, we have no money to investigate the rape of penan girls? Will penan girls get Gardasil?
9) Gardasil only serves to reduce the chances of getting Cervical cancer, and in fact it affects 16 out of 18 strains of HPV that cause Cervical cancer. However, cervical cancer isn’t the number one killer of women. Breast cancer has a higher incidence rate of women, and heart disease remains the number killer of men and women in Malaysia. In fact heart disease kills more women in Malaysia than all the cancers combined. So it’s probably more effective to have a proper physical education and healthy lunches in schools than it is to vaccinate against HPV.
10) There is an enourmous debate going on about Gardasil, and the ministry of health needs to consider this before it administer a drug on our girls that could potentially kill many of them. What you administer your children is up to you, I’m not saying Gardasil is going to kill your daughter, but I think it’s irresponsible to propose nationwide administration of the drug without letting parents know of the potential side effects.
That’s my 2 cents. Don’t spend it all in one place.