General Question

icepebbles's avatar

What are your views on the Gardasil Panic?

Asked by icepebbles (80points) June 2nd, 2009

Some Gardasil recipients claim to have experienced extremely adverse side effects as a result of the vaccine.

Myspace bulletins with personal stories (such as this one) have been circulating and generating hundreds of comments in a matter of hours. This article also provides information regarding the panic.

What should an intelligent observer really take away from this?

Wikipedia says the following:

Of the 23 million doses of Gardasil administered to girls and women up to December 31, 2008, 11,916 adverse events were reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS): 94% of these events have been classified as non-serious with the remaining 6% classified as serious. Gardasil has less than half the average percentage of serious reports. These are anecdotal reports, and “it is important to note that a report to VAERS does not mean there is a connection between the vaccine and the event. It means the event took place following vaccination.” The FDA and CDC said that with millions of vaccinations “by chance alone some serious adverse effects and deaths” will occur in the time period following vaccination, but have nothing to do with the vaccine. Although at least 20 women who received the Gardasil vaccine have died, there is no evidence that deaths or serious outcomes were connected to the shot. Where information was available, the cause of death was explained by other factors. Likewise, although a small number of cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) have been reported following vaccination with Gardasil, there is no evidence linking GBS to the vaccine.

Here is what the CDC has to say about it. I checked out this source, as it was the one referenced in Wikipedia for the statement, “Gardasil has less than half the average percentage of serious reports.” Apparently, the “6% of adverse events” is the part that is half the average percentage of serious reports for a vaccine, but the CDC says nothing about the typicality the ratio of adverse reports to number of doses administered. This ratio could, however, be very typical. (I am about to run into work and have not had the time to research this yet.)

I am most interested in answers to the following questions:

1. As logical consumers of this information, what are we to take away from it? Is this truly cause for a panic, or is this another example of uninformed people stirring up a fuss about something of which they know nothing?

2. How compelling and statistically powerful do correlations between a possible agent and a response need to be before they are a cause for concern?

3. In the personal anecdote, what should we infer (if anything) from the fact that no Western doctor was willing to admit the possibility of a link between the vaccine and her illness, but Eastern doctors did acknowledge the possibility?

[I don’t mean this to sound harsh, but if you do have a personal story about an adverse side effect to Gardasil, I do request that you do not post the story in this particular thread. If many of you have stories, it’s quite possible that a separate thread would be an appropriate forum for sharing them. However, there are already several examples of various personal stories in the information I have provided above, and there is a lot to discuss about how we should construe this information. I would prefer this thread to remain on topic about how one should logically and rationally interpret information presented on something like the Gardasil Panic. Thank you!]

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46 Answers

dynamicduo's avatar

How in the world could anyone panic over 714 in 23 million serious cases, compared to the number of deaths that will be prevented because of this vaccine? This is an example of panic and media frenzy overriding actual statistics and logic.

As to your question regarding the Western/Eastern doctors, no I really don’t think it would be wise to infer anything at all from that.

Edit: As for personal anecdotes, those are not worthwhile to me as evidence one bit. I didn’t even look at the ones you offered.

icepebbles's avatar

@dynamicduo: Great answer; this was my inclination as well. I felt I must be missing something because of the panic in existence. Do you have any insight into your own question, “How in the world could anyone panic over 714 in 23 million serious cases, compared to the number of deaths that will be prevented because of this vaccine?”

I strongly agree that personal anecdotes are not evidence. I cited the personal anecdotes as an example of the Panic.

dynamicduo's avatar

What type of insight would you like?

The 714 number comes from 6% of 11916. And even that is vague and misleading. It seems the number of actual deaths per year related to this vaccine are yet unknown. One number I found from an extremely biased news source quotes figures of 10 per year in America.

I am currently looking some statistics regarding the previous deaths attributed to the HPV virus. It’s hard to extrapolate it of course, so I’ll select the most prevalent result, cervical cancer. It is immediately apparent, even with Canadian statistics (with Canadian population of course), that cervical cancer has caused hundreds of deaths per year in recent years, increasing as we go back in time.

It’s simply comparing benefits. 10 deaths in a year for the vaccine, 4000 deaths via cervical cancer without the vaccine.

Lupin's avatar

I know this is off topic but, am I the only one that’s bothered by that “One Less” ad? “Once Fewer.” please.
10 deaths for the vaccine, 4000 for CC. My choice is clear “One Fewer.”

icepebbles's avatar

@dynamicduo: All of this I agree with. I was asking for insight into why people would be panicked. Your evidence is insight into why not to be panicked.

dynamicduo's avatar

I understand now. I would then recommend this book to you, which elaborates why our brains have a hard time rationalizing and processing appropriate risks related to fear (and does a great job at showing how this is exploited by many entities around us): Risk: The science and politics of fear. I believe this will help answer your question about why people would be panicked about such things.

syz's avatar

“A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.”
-Kay, Men in Black

(The less serious answer.)

cwilbur's avatar

@icepebbles: People panic over things like this because they do not understand statistics, and 11,000 seems like a very big number to them.

icepebbles's avatar

Dynamicduo, I am completely with you. As a logical person who understands statistics, I was 100% on the side of the non-panic group before posting this question. I needed no convincing of the ridiculous nature of this panic.

However, I read many comments from people on the side of the panic group regarding this situation. Quite confused by their reasoning, I attempted to post this question from a neutral position in order to facilitate discussion from both groups. Given that much of the “evidence” for the people in the panic group is anecdotal, I posted the anecdotes in order to present both sides of the situation. I was hoping to receive responses from people on both sides of the panic in order to challenge the reasoning and draw some logic out of the discussion in an interactive environment.

I apologize for underestimating the population of Fluther, in believing that there actually would be some people here on the panic side of this debate. Before posting, it seemed to me there were an inordinate amount of people willing to throw their arms up in the air and call for an end to Gardasil upon reading a personal anecdote. There also seemed to be many who believed there to be some sort of governmental conspiracy trying to cover up a big flop of a vaccine, hence the question about what to infer from the girl’s anecdote about the Western vs. Eastern doctors.

This is all clearly absurd, but I mistakenly believed there could be some people on Fluther who would agree with the panic group. I am well aware of human risk aversion, and I realize the way in which people inappropriately interpret health dangers and statistics. In my question, I was simply attempting to present the situation from a neutral standpoint so that we could hear from both sides. I was interested in learning the logic of those in the panic group so that I could comprehend this mindset and so that perhaps these people would be challenged to reconsider their reasoning.

I apologize, again, for underestimating Fluther, and also for being so unclear and confusing.

dynamicduo's avatar

Oh, you have no need to apologize from my perspective at all :)

There may be some people who would subscribe to the panic here, you’ll need to give your question a day to circulate around the different timezones/site usage patterns to get a true variety of answers.

As you are new here and your profile shows no indication that you are indeed a logical person, I was not sure what kind of a person you are. I recommend that book quite often, it’s a super eye opening book into our brains. I hope you did not take my recommending the book as any sort of insult or berating as that was certainly not my intention at all.

I’m simply a logical one, who is on the site around this time, and took interest in your question from a statistical viewpoint. Nice to read your responses in this thread and I hope to continue to have interesting discussions in the future :)

RedPowerLady's avatar

I think we have to consider the fact that the Drug Administration does not report accurate numbers when it comes to vaccines.

Look at the correlation between Autism and childhood vaccines that has yet to be supported by the medical community or the Drug Administration.

I think that there is always a reason to be concerned about vaccines. The drugs they put in them are a bit scary.

And this vaccine is being advocated for girls who are going through puberty which causes an entire different effect on the body.

Not only that but they are talking about mandating this vaccine. Another cause for concern.

And one more, this vaccine is very very new for it to be so popular. There really has been no time to look for side effects as of yet.

I think this is about being well-educated from various angles.

Of course people have freedom of choice and the Gardisil Vaccine has the potential to be quite awesome. So I won’t take away the benefits of it. And I am not for a panic. But I am for having well-educated citizens who do not simply follow media hype (in either direction).

galileogirl's avatar

There are several things about Gardasil that are objectionable. The ad campaign implies that if you don’t have your preadolescent daughter injected, you are an uncaring parent. There has been discussion about requiring immigrants to be injected. Nobody is talking about long term effects or cost. And nobody is talking about boys.

Back in the 60’s and 70’s there was a drug widely distributed to prevent premature births and miscarriage by women who had a history. It had a slight positive effect but the children born from those pregnancies had a very high rate of sterility and cancer in their 20’s and 30’s. If I had a 10 year old daughter, I would think twice before allowing Gardacil without knowing long term effects.

The panic seems to in getting everyone injected. Mandatory inoculations make sense when you are talking about diphtheria or mumps and other diseases that are casually transmitted. We could save far more lives if we mandated flu shots, but we don’t. Why? Because there is no big pharmcorp that will get rich with flu shots so there is no guilt and fear inducing ad campaign. There are no pharmcorp lobbyists trying to force laws on American women and girls.

With profit to Merck there is tremendous cost to the American people. It is strange that legislators who are not willing to pay for preventative medical care for American children are willing to require girls to take a course of injections at $375 each. Lets do the math. There are about 12,000 cases of cervical cancer/yr. Gardacil would only prevent 70% of them or 8400 cases. If only 10 mil girls (3% of the US population ) took Gardacil that would be at a cost $3.75 billion or $450,000 per case prevented-almost half a million dollars each!

And why aren’t we addressing males. Men are the carriers of the HPV virus. Besides genital warts HPV causes all kinds of male genital cancers. It makes more sense to give Gardacil to 10 yo boys.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@galileogirl applause, great articulation of some of my own thoughts, beautiful

crisw's avatar

“Look at the correlation between Autism and childhood vaccines that has yet to be supported by the medical community or the Drug Administration.”

There is, of course, a correlation between autism and childhood vaccines. The symptoms of autism usually begin to show up during the same period in which children get vaccinated.

The point, if course, is that correlation does not imply causation. Dozens of studies have been done on this issue. There is no scientific support whatsoever for the idea that childhood vaccination causes autism.

It is confusion between things such as correlation and causation that lead to situations like the Gardasil “crisis.”

crisw's avatar


“There are several things about Gardasil that are objectionable.”
OK, let’s see if any of them have to do with the actual safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

“The ad campaign implies that if you don’t have your preadolescent daughter injected, you are an uncaring parent”
Haven’t seen the ads, don’t know if this is true or not- but it has nothing to do with safety or efficacy.

“There has been discussion about requiring immigrants to be injected.”
Cite, please. Otherwise, this sounds more like antivaccination hype than a real issue.

“Nobody is talking about long term effects or cost.”
Cite, please. A small amount of research actually shows that the opposite is true – in this example, Canada specifically allotted money to the vaccine due to evidence for long term cost effectiveness and efficacy.

“And nobody is talking about boys.”
Sorry, but that is just plain wrong. Although boys don’t get cervical cancer, they do get HPV-caused genital cancers, and the vaccine is being studied for use in men.

I could continue, but I am always disappointed in responses where just the first paragraph alone makes so many false claims. A cursory glance at the rest of the post shows that it is equally flawed.

icepebbles's avatar

@crisw: Yeah, and there’s also a really high correlation between ice cream consumption and drowning. At the same times of year during which ice cream consumption goes up, so do the number of drownings. As caring parents, we should stop allowing our children to eat ice cream in order to prevent them from drowning.

Oh wait. Those two things are only correlated because when it’s hot in the summer, people are more likely to A) eat ice cream and B) go swimming.

icepebbles's avatar

@dynamicduo: I did not take offense; I just did not want to mistakenly give off the impression that I was of the camp subscribing to the panic. :)

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@RedPowerLady there is no causational link between certain vaccines and autism. Autism is not caused by being exposed to the thimerosal in vaccines. Autism is a genetic disorder, and according to the latest research I’ve read, by non-profit organizations with nothing to hide or prove, there is no link between the two. There just isn’t any hard evidence to prove a link between vaccines and autism. Anecdotal evidence is not evidence, it is conjecture. Might as well say autism is caused by eating lollipops.

Autism is linked to certain neurons in the brain, called mirror neurons, that appear to be ‘turned off’ by an as yet unknown process. Five times as many boys as girls are diagnosed with autism, which seems very odd if the disease was caused by exposure to thimerosal. The diagnosis of autism would be closer to fifty-fifty if the vaccine was at fault.

But then, people would rather believe charlatans that have an agenda to make money by playing on parent’s fears, than actual scientific studies. People need to get over the fact that the thimerosal in vaccines is causing autism, because there just isn’t any evidence for it. I would assume the same goes for the scare mentioned in this question.

crisw's avatar

“But then, people would rather believe charlatans that have an agenda to make money by playing on parent’s fears, than actual scientific studies.”

How accurate- and how sad.

I remember after the recent court case that supoported the lack of a link between vaccines and autism our local paper featured a front page article from one of the anti-vacc crowd, still singing the same songs of corruption and coverup. I was aghast that they gave her the space to do so, and devoted far less space to the actual evidence and data that the court case had discussed.

mollyloretta's avatar

I’m extremely new to this site. In fact, I only stumbled upon it researching information about the Gardasil. I’ve received Gardasil, and found interesting information. Such as there’s no definitive proof that Gardasil was the cause of a death that happened weeks after the initial injection, and that Gardasil is not supposed to be given with other vaccinations. Also, how many of this 6% of the near 12,000 were attributed to allergy?

We don’t know. The study doesn’t say. Many people are allergic to various drugs, and I can’t believe anyone is making such a big deal of 714 out of 23 million. I wonder if this 6% as well includes those who fainted (a common side effect) and ended up injuring themselves in a fall.

People are causing a ruckus for no reason. The media isn’t even accurately portraying the amount of reactions in comparison to the number of vaccinations. It’s just causing a big scare. I’d much rather have an allergic reaction and go to the hospital for a few days as opposed to going through radiation and chemotherapy over cancer. I can’t imagine many people who would prefer cancer over a possible adverse reaction.

I wonder if the deaths that could possibly be attributed to Gardasil were, and the recipients of the vaccine having issues that they weren’t getting checked, or calling their physicians for. After you’re administered a drug, you should monitor yourself to make sure that there are no reactions. Many drugs stay in the system for a matter of time, just because it doesn’t happen right away doesn’t mean it will happen. But then call the doctor, don’t just sit there and let yourself get worse. Shakes head It’s all such silly hype with not enough correlation to show us anything. I am PRO Gardasil shot. Just watch yourself because ANYONE can be allergic to ANYTHING. It’s life.

mollyloretta's avatar

@icepebbles Exactly. Correlations mean NOTHING. Without proper evidence it’s all guess-work.

mollyloretta's avatar

@galileogirl The vaccine was not tested on men, therefore has not been administered. As well as men cannot get tested for HPV, and they would only be able to know if they had it if they had genital warts. It is unfortunate, but I hope this changes in the near future. They are testing the shot on men in order to make it available to both genders to increase our safety. Next, the only reason it is only administered to women between the ages of 9 and 26 is because that is the test group. It was not tested for safety on people of younger, or older ages, and therefore is not available to such groups.

dynamicduo's avatar

@RedPowerLady Do not bring your ridiculous nonscientific hypothesis about autism into this discussion. If you want to bring it up, go make your own question, don’t ruin this one with it.

galileogirl's avatar

@crisw Maybe you should be disappointed when one person’s criteria are imposed on another person’s post. I found those things to be objectionable. I did not take into account YOUR definition of safety or efficacy.

As far as the advertisements for Gardasil, they are on TV daily to the point that their ungrammatical use of the catchphrase “One, less” has been commented on in this thread.

As far as “citing” things I have heard or read, I must confess my team of researchers and fact checkers took the day off but I can assure you those items were from network news sources and mainstream news periodicals over the last 2 years. Of course I am certain everything you have ever read or heard has been properly filed with date, time and source under at least 3 different topics. Right, Poindexter?

shilolo's avatar

@crisw @evelyns_pet_zebra I wish I could give you two more than one GA. There is so much misinformation about vaccines in general, and the false link with autism that it is depressing to think about. This type of issue goes back to one of my biggest concerns, which is the lack of proper scientific education in this country. And by that I mean the ability to understand and critically analyze data. The confusion between correlation and causation is so profound that it is manifest everywhere, including mainstream news sources.

This also goes to the heart of another of my pet peeves regarding vaccines, which is that (at least in Western countries), few people have personal experience with the horrible diseases the vaccines prevent. We have done such an outstanding job of vaccination, that the rates of severe childhood illnesses are extremely low. As such, people take vaccination (and public health) for granted. Of course, as soon as a possible epidemic arises (a la the H1N1 influenza outbreak), people immediately start clamoring for a vaccine, STAT! Vaccines are DANGEROUS, until we need them!

mollyloretta's avatar

@shilolo EXACTLY. There are many diseases that really don’t even circulate anymore, thanks to the help of vaccines. When there are a number of adverse reactions (even with the number being low), the general population still ends up treating the vaccine as though it is an epidemic—while the disease, or virus, or any illness the vaccine treats or prevents would kill a larger number of people. Too many people jump to conclusions.

I see it a lot in the cosmetology industry as well. Certain ingredients are made cosmetic-grade, while there are also industrial-grade of the same ingredient. The processes and chemical formulations are completely different, yet someone will hear something negative about the industrial-grade form of the ingredient and cause a hysteria over it for nothing.

I’m still wondering on that meager 6% how many of these adverse reactions were an allergic reaction to an ingredient in the vaccine. I have yet to be told, or find the information anywhere. If anyone has this information, please let me know.

casheroo's avatar

I’m glad I don’t have an older daughter, so I have time to see some long term results from it. I’ve got minimum ten to fifteen years before I have to think about this

crisw's avatar

“As far as the advertisements for Gardasil, they are on TV daily”
I don’t watch TV.

“As far as “citing” things I have heard or read, I must confess my team of researchers and fact checkers took the day off ”
When you make claims, it’s your responsibility to support them. It’s hardly fair to complain if you are called to task for not doing so. I noticed that you focused on this rather than actually trying to go back and support any of the claims that you made.

galileogirl's avatar

@shilolo As a scientist, I am sure you would insist that with any drug, risk must be factored into the decision of whether or not to take it. What we are looking at with Gardacil is the statistical evidence that 4000 women die each year from cervical cancers. It is expected that 2800 (70%) might not have died if they had taken it before becoming sexually active. That means that the average woman 2800/165 million over 50 year s after becoming sexually active has .08% or only 1 chance in 1250-quite a risk for such a new drug considering serious reactions to the drug will be 2% or 25 times greater than the chance of death without it.

As a scientist, I am sure you are aware of the effects of diethylstilbestrol (DES) and Thalidomide, two drugs that were tested and seemed to be efficacious.

Women who took DES had an increased risk of breast cancer in their 30’s and 40’s, DES exposed daughters had a marked increase of uterine and cervical cancer in their teens and 20’s, malformation of reproductive organs, tubal pregnancies, premature babies, and infertility. DES sons develop testicular and penile cysts and may have a greater chance at becoming transgender. The results are unknown for the 3rd generation who are just going through puberty.

Thalidimide of course produced children born without limbs.

As I stated earlier, I would counsel my daughter about all the dangers of unprotected sex, physical and emotional but I wouldn’t make this particular decision for her without other factors like a family history.

galileogirl's avatar

@crisw I’m sure you have a data base that includes every news story you ever read or heard or wrapped a fish in but I don’t recognize your right to demand I share that particular fetish. What about responding to the cost. And be real about it. Half a million dollars per life saved while we are cutting millions of children off from basic care.

shilolo's avatar

@galileogirl I applaud you for trying to apply statistical analysis to this issue. However, there are several flaws in your logic. First, the vaccine as it was initially tested was not designed to prevent death, but rather, infection from serotypes of HPV known to cause cervical cancer. This is important because as you noted, only 70% of cervical cancer cases and deaths are attributed to HPV-16 and 18. However, what your analysis leaves out is all of the morbidity associated with HPV infection, including more minor forms of cervical dysplasia (i.e. pre-cancer) that require surgical intervention, as well as the aggressive screening and follow-up required for women who have dysplastic cells on PAP smear. In fact, the number needed to treat to prevent one case of HPV-16 is ~18 women. That means that you have to vaccinate 18 to prevent one case. That is a very low number, actually. So preventing hundreds of thousands of infections will prevent deaths, but also many needless colposcopies and other invasive procedures that themselves are serious in their own right.

With respect to DES and thalidomide, those two drugs were not tested in the same way as we test drugs today. Studies then were flawed by the use of certain animal models that didn’t mimic human biology.

You are right that all drugs, vaccines, and treatments have risks that must be taken into account and sometimes only come to light after large numbers of people take the medicine (like COX-2 inhibitors, for example). That said, the risk of the gardasil vaccine seems to be far overblown relative to the benefits to individual women and society as a whole.

Darwin's avatar

My biggest problem with Gardasil was the way in which it was introduced to us in Texas. Out of the blue, Governor Goodhair suddenly announced that all girls between the ages of 12 and 18 would be required to have the shot and he attempted to get it into law. Not only does Merck donate to his campaign fund, there were way too many question left unanswered, although there were answers available.

Questions such as why don’t boys have the same requirement for the shot were a problem. Also, the female only requirement implies that somehow women are more likely to be disease carriers somehow. And there were other problems related to how society seems to view women and to the idea of freedom of choice.

In any case, Perry backed down, more answers have come out, and my daughter and I discussed the shot and decided that if and when she decides to become sexually active, the Gardasil vaccine will be one consideration as will birth control and regular check ups.

galileogirl's avatar

I wonder what $1.875 billion would buy in health care AND STD education.

crisw's avatar


Where do you get this figure of ”$1.875 billion” and what, exactly, does that cover?

RedPowerLady's avatar


The point, if course, is that correlation does not imply causation. Dozens of studies have been done on this issue. There is no scientific support whatsoever for the idea that childhood vaccination causes autism

A great friend of mine works in early childhood development. Particularly Autism. From the people who work with autistic children and screen for them, there is absolutely evidence showing a casual relationship between autism and vaccines. Not in all cases. In fact there are three primary causes of autism as seen by these direct workers. You are right in stating there is no scientific evidence, as was my point. But this is aside from the issue at hand and I prefer not to hijack a thread. We can of course agree to disagree.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@dynamicduo Don’t be an arse. And do not tell me what I can and cannot write about. That is silly to say the least

RedPowerLady's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra you can see above response but I am of course not citing any scientific evidence, I speak purely from the information given to me by people who actually screen for autism. There is not only one cause of this disorder either. Genes being one cause. Two others that are suggested but not proven are diet allergies and chemicals in vaccines. You do not have to agree with me and I am not asking you to. I am not citing scientific evidence and am fully aware of that.

crisw's avatar

Just for the record, I work for a private school foundation that has an entire campus devoted to autistic kids, with programs that are entirely based on science and evidence, not the latest fads and foibles. No one on the staff of this campus (and that would be about 50 people, working every day with autistic kids) buys into the vaccine story, for the simple reason that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support it, plus plenty to show it isn’t true.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@crisw Okay well thank you for the information. It is typical of the internet and our society to have people on all sides of an issue. We will just have to be on different sides for this one.

crisw's avatar

I think that a general reply is called for here, as it applies just as much to the Gardasil situation as it does to autism.

As far as I can tell, you are stating that you wish to continue to believe that vaccines cause autism, despite the fact that you freely admit that you have no verifiable scientific evidence that this is true. Similarly, the anti-Gardasil crowd also makes unscientific claims that do not change no matter what the scientific evidence shows.

We’ve discussed the issue of science versus belief before, and we seemed to agree that unscientific beliefs that cause harm are problematic. These are such beliefs.

People who refuse to vaccinate their children due to unfounded beliefs about vaccines are doing their children harm. They are also doing other children harm. Continuing to spread unfounded beliefs about vaccines, even in the face of insurmountable evidence, is, in my mind, an extremely unethical act.

Since you seem to like personal stories, let me share two.

My best friend has an older sister who is mentally retarded and will always need the care of others. She was born this way because her mother contracted rubella during her pregnancy, in the days before a vaccine was avalable. Rubella-induced fetal encephalitis has all but disappeared due to vaccination. Stop vaccinating, and this disorder, which also deafened and blinded thousands of children, will return.

My brother in law’s wife refused to let their children be vaccinated due to holding unscientific beliefs about vaccination. Their children attend a school where many students are unvaccinated. One student’s family travelled to Switzerland, met up with other unvaccinated kids- and brought home measles. A measles outbreak resulted, leading to the temporary closure of the school and the hospitalization of many children, including at least one baby who was too young to be vaccinated and had measles-caused encephalitis.

This is not a matter where two beliefs can be judged equal because they are harmless. This is a matter of life and death. Pretending otherwise is simply untenable.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@crisw, @RedPowerLady, while there are many beliefs without scientific evidence to back them up, i.e. UFOs, ghosts, and anthropomorphic behavior in animals, such things are relatively harmless and seem to be inocuous in general. But when such beliefs become a matter of ehtics, i.e. vaccinations, or pretty much anything that effects the health and well-being of others, then such beliefs are dangerous. I remember reading about the New Age group that gave children with behavioral disorders a treatment called ‘re-birthing’ and one little girl was suffocated by wrapping her in a blanket and shouting at her to push her way out to be reborn. Such beliefs that cause harm to others need to be investigated, and those responsible need to be tried in a court of law for causing needless deaths due to unproven beliefs. If your beliefs are a threat to others, then you should be held fully responsible when said beliefs cause harm to others.

Darwin's avatar

And then there is this

In essence the vaccine-autism link has been tried in a court of law and found to be nonexistent.

galileogirl's avatar

@shilolo In fact there were human studies on both DES and Thalidomide, but at the time Thalidomide was being tested only men were used in most studies, which was the case until the last decade. As for DES, since it was being prescribed for pregnancy issues women were tested but not the long term effects on the fetuses.

No matter how testing practices have changed, we know there have been no tests on the long term effects on prepubescent girls-the Gardisol target market.

crisw's avatar

“we know there have been no tests on the long term effects on prepubescent girls-the Gardisol target market.”

Can you please do at least cursory research before making statements like this? It really doesn’t help your arguments any to make statements that are patently false that even 15 seconds worth of research would have debunked. You did it above when you said that no one was “thinking about the boys” and that no one had looked at the cost benefit analysis of Gardasil. You are doing it again here.
Here’s one article on long-term testing.

Please note that the vaccine isn’t meant to be given to “prepubescent girls” but to girls before they engage in sexual intercourse.

galileogirl's avatar

They are pushing it to parents of 9 and 10 yos and that is the age group depicted in the commercials. That is also what they state in your link but they only tested on women who had achieved puberty and followed them for 8 years. DES issues took twice that long to appear. We both know that testing on children would be unethical, in order to participate in these research studies, subjects have to be able to give consent, something minors are generally not legally able to do.

shilolo's avatar

@galileogirl The problems with thalidomide were due to using an animal model for testing that lacked certain enzymes involved in converting thalidomide to its teratogenic substance.

As far as testing on children being (un)ethical, again, you are wrong. Studies are performed on children, and are in fact ethical as long as the parents or legal guardians consent to the study and the studies are approved by institutional review boards. This table from the New England Journal of Medicine summarizes the various formats and approvals needed for studies in children.

As the article states “The issue of testing medications in children presents a dilemma. Society wants to spare children from the potential risks involved in research. But children may be harmed if they are given medications that have been inadequately studied. Research that is carefully designed and conducted should help to protect children, but studies — particularly studies of medications whose safety has not been established — cannot be risk-free. Unless more children participate, more clinical trials cannot be conducted.”

Also, I would ask, what would you have scientists do, wait 50 years for the results of a study? What about all the cases of HPV, cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer that would occur in the interim while you awaited the results? Is it ethical to deny a useful vaccine/medication to satisfy an extreme standard?

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