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News & Politics News & Politics

Utah health official bans Gardasil

Posted by on Dec. 8, 2013 at 10:00 PM
  • 32 Replies
Citing low demand, high costs — and questioning the benefits, Utah’s Southwest Public Department of Health does not stock or recommend Gardasil, the vaccine against HPV, the cancer-causing human papilloma virus.

The decision to exclude the vaccine from its public health clinics in Beaver, Iron, Garfield, Kane and Washington counties was made years ago, not by the area’s Board of Health, but by the agency’s director, physician David Blodgett.

"The backlash and sentiment against it was strong enough that there’s no reason to go there," Blodgett explained. "No one wants it and it’s too expensive when we’re not funded to provide it."

But in light of Utah’s dismal HPV vaccination rate, Blodgett’s decision is stirring new debate in public health circles.

The vaccine isn’t mandated in Utah. But the Utah Department of Health has been recommending it for preteen girls since 2006, and for boys since 2011.

At 42 percent, Utah ranks lowest in the nation for completion of the three-injection series among girls who start it. The national rate is 71 percent, according to the National Immunization Survey. There isn’t enough data on boys to publish.

Reasons for the slow uptake are varied, including concerns that giving the vaccine at such a young age, by 11 or 12, is a license to be promiscuous — which research has disputed, said William Cosgrove, a pediatrician in Murray and a member of the Utah Scientific Immunization Advisory Committee.

For a senior health official to downplay the benefits of a life-saving vaccine is "highly unethical," said Cosgrove.

Gardasil is safe and more than 95 percent effective at preventing four sexually transmitted viruses responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancer and 90 percent of genital warts, he said. It’s also proven effective at preventing throat, penile and anal cancers.

"Adolescents face an 80 percent chance of being infected by one or more of these viruses," said Cosgrove.

The three-shot series can retail for $360, but is fully covered by private insurance and provided free of charge to low-income families — and public health clinics — through the federal Vaccines for Children program.

"To be dissuaded by cost issues, or to not stock the vaccine due to low public demand, is disingenuous, especially for someone with responsibilities to protect the public," said Cosgrove. "I believe the real medical issues here are clouded by a moralistic belief system that precludes any frank discussion about sexuality in adolescents."

Blodgett cites other problems with Gardasil, namely that it was fast-tracked through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a belief that its benefits were oversold by drug maker Merck.

"The science wasn’t good... We had physicians in our community arguing that we not make it available," said Blodgett.

HPV is "absolutely a risk for cervical cancer," but it’s not the only risk, he said, arguing the vaccine cuts risk by 17 percent. Cancers caused by HPV are extremely rare and immunization comes with no guarantee for long-term protection; women are still supposed to get regular Pap smears to test for the virus, he said.

Weighed against the vaccine’s risks, "the public isn’t buying it," he contends. "It’s eroding public trust in immunization programs."

TriCounty Health Department, spanning Daggett, Duchesne and Uintah counties, makes the vaccine available only with a doctor’s prescription.

"It’s a complicated vaccine that requires discussion about [sexual health] and a physical exam and follow-up visits with a doctor," said the agency’s director, Joseph Shaffer. "My feeling is that’s better held in the physician’s office than here at the health department."

Fear that Gardasil is dangerous hasn’t been eased by the FDA’s assurances. The agency approved and monitors the drug and says its safety profile matches those of other vaccines.

Earlier this week, national talk show host Katie Couric featured a woman on daytime TV who said the HPV vaccine killed her daughter. The show was roundly criticized by other media, including Slate and Forbes magazines.

Residents of southern Utah still have access to Gardasil through private clinics. But like all drugs, the vaccine has an expiration date. Cosgrove said many rural doctors can’t afford to keep it stocked, creating an access problem.

Southwest’s decision has ripple effects for the entire state, he said.

"When I choose not to vaccinate, I’m making decisions that affect the health and safety of strangers down the line," he said. "No one really talks about that cascade of responsibility."

Each year in America there are an estimated 26,000 new cancers attributable to HPV, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s in addition to nearly 2 million cases of high- and low-grade cervical dyplasia, or precancerous cells, and 360,000 new cases of genital warts a year.

"We have a vaccine to prevent that heartache," said Cosgrove. "Yet we have parents and doctors who don’t want to face it and a public health association that is wishy-washy at best."


http://m.sltrib.com/sltrib/mobile3/57224192-219/vaccine-health-percent-utah.html.csp
by on Dec. 8, 2013 at 10:00 PM
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Replies (1-10):
Analeigh2012
by Silver Member on Dec. 9, 2013 at 1:45 AM
1 mom liked this
Very, very sad. Parents and physicians that do not recommend or fail to protect their children from HPV infections should be ashamed if themselves. I didn't see the interview with Katie Couric, but I have a difficult time believing the vaccine killed her daughter. I worked on the precursor of this vaccine. I know the process it went through, the review by the FDA. It was most definitely NOT fast-tracked and it most definitely provides huge benefits in reducing risk of severe cancer by protecting against the virus that is very common. Sad, sad, sad.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
kcangel63
by Amanda on Dec. 9, 2013 at 10:13 AM
This shot is not proven effective. Should the same people be held responsible for an injury if the vaccine injurs or kills said child?

Oh, on another note... Has anyone heard of a new HPV schedule for infants (2 months old) to get this shot? A FB friend said a nurse had a shot list for her friend (she said she's said) for her infant to get the HPV shot. I'm trying to get a picture of it. I don't see it online.


Quoting Analeigh2012: Very, very sad. Parents and physicians that do not recommend or fail to protect their children from HPV infections should be ashamed if themselves. I didn't see the interview with Katie Couric, but I have a difficult time believing the vaccine killed her daughter. I worked on the precursor of this vaccine. I know the process it went through, the review by the FDA. It was most definitely NOT fast-tracked and it most definitely provides huge benefits in reducing risk of severe cancer by protecting against the virus that is very common. Sad, sad, sad.
JustCJ
by on Dec. 9, 2013 at 2:07 PM

Analeigh what do you do for a living?

Quoting Analeigh2012: Very, very sad. Parents and physicians that do not recommend or fail to protect their children from HPV infections should be ashamed if themselves. I didn't see the interview with Katie Couric, but I have a difficult time believing the vaccine killed her daughter. I worked on the precursor of this vaccine. I know the process it went through, the review by the FDA. It was most definitely NOT fast-tracked and it most definitely provides huge benefits in reducing risk of severe cancer by protecting against the virus that is very common. Sad, sad, sad.


Analeigh2012
by Silver Member on Dec. 9, 2013 at 6:21 PM
1 mom liked this
Now? I work in Human Resources (15 years). Previously I worked both R&D and QA/QC for a pharmaceutical company (3 years). Before that I was a Vet Tech / Vet Surgical Assistant for large and small animals (2 years). My degree in college (20 years ago) was Microbiology with a minor concentration in Veterinary Medicine.

Quoting JustCJ:

Analeigh what do you do for a living?

Quoting Analeigh2012: Very, very sad. Parents and physicians that do not recommend or fail to protect their children from HPV infections should be ashamed if themselves. I didn't see the interview with Katie Couric, but I have a difficult time believing the vaccine killed her daughter. I worked on the precursor of this vaccine. I know the process it went through, the review by the FDA. It was most definitely NOT fast-tracked and it most definitely provides huge benefits in reducing risk of severe cancer by protecting against the virus that is very common. Sad, sad, sad.


Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Analeigh2012
by Silver Member on Dec. 9, 2013 at 6:22 PM
This shot has not been proven effective?
Where did you get that from?


Quoting kcangel63: This shot is not proven effective. Should the same people be held responsible for an injury if the vaccine injurs or kills said child?



Oh, on another note... Has anyone heard of a new HPV schedule for infants (2 months old) to get this shot? A FB friend said a nurse had a shot list for her friend (she said she's said) for her infant to get the HPV shot. I'm trying to get a picture of it. I don't see it online.




Quoting Analeigh2012: Very, very sad. Parents and physicians that do not recommend or fail to protect their children from HPV infections should be ashamed if themselves. I didn't see the interview with Katie Couric, but I have a difficult time believing the vaccine killed her daughter. I worked on the precursor of this vaccine. I know the process it went through, the review by the FDA. It was most definitely NOT fast-tracked and it most definitely provides huge benefits in reducing risk of severe cancer by protecting against the virus that is very common. Sad, sad, sad.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
JustCJ
by on Dec. 9, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Wow you're motivated! :)

Quoting Analeigh2012: Now? I work in Human Resources (15 years). Previously I worked both R&D and QA/QC for a pharmaceutical company (3 years). Before that I was a Vet Tech / Vet Surgical Assistant for large and small animals (2 years). My degree in college (20 years ago) was Microbiology with a minor concentration in Veterinary Medicine.

Quoting JustCJ:

Analeigh what do you do for a living?

Quoting Analeigh2012: Very, very sad. Parents and physicians that do not recommend or fail to protect their children from HPV infections should be ashamed if themselves. I didn't see the interview with Katie Couric, but I have a difficult time believing the vaccine killed her daughter. I worked on the precursor of this vaccine. I know the process it went through, the review by the FDA. It was most definitely NOT fast-tracked and it most definitely provides huge benefits in reducing risk of severe cancer by protecting against the virus that is very common. Sad, sad, sad.



JoJoBean8
by Silver Member on Dec. 9, 2013 at 7:42 PM
1 mom liked this

Good. That vaccine is horrible. 

Analeigh2012
by Silver Member on Dec. 9, 2013 at 8:32 PM
1 mom liked this
Motivated by failure :)
I wanted to go to Veterinary school - my dream job was a farm vet. I came from a state that doesn't have a vet school, so I had to vie for out of state seats. I tried 5 years, several schools. Changing my jobs to vary my application experience. Moved to Maryland to increase my chances. Then fell into love and into my current job which became a career. I have climbed the corporate ladder in a global Fortune 500 company and found that I really love it! Now my goal is to retire and open a bakery cafe - where my passion lies is making pies!!! :)


Quoting JustCJ:

Wow you're motivated! :)

Quoting Analeigh2012: Now? I work in Human Resources (15 years). Previously I worked both R&D and QA/QC for a pharmaceutical company (3 years). Before that I was a Vet Tech / Vet Surgical Assistant for large and small animals (2 years). My degree in college (20 years ago) was Microbiology with a minor concentration in Veterinary Medicine.



Quoting JustCJ:

Analeigh what do you do for a living?

Quoting Analeigh2012: Very, very sad. Parents and physicians that do not recommend or fail to protect their children from HPV infections should be ashamed if themselves. I didn't see the interview with Katie Couric, but I have a difficult time believing the vaccine killed her daughter. I worked on the precursor of this vaccine. I know the process it went through, the review by the FDA. It was most definitely NOT fast-tracked and it most definitely provides huge benefits in reducing risk of severe cancer by protecting against the virus that is very common. Sad, sad, sad.



Posted on CafeMom Mobile
JustCJ
by on Dec. 9, 2013 at 8:45 PM

That really is wonderful! I had no idea what your background was. Sometimes what we think we want isn't what we want after all.

Quoting Analeigh2012: Motivated by failure :)
I wanted to go to Veterinary school - my dream job was a farm vet. I came from a state that doesn't have a vet school, so I had to vie for out of state seats. I tried 5 years, several schools. Changing my jobs to vary my application experience. Moved to Maryland to increase my chances. Then fell into love and into my current job which became a career. I have climbed the corporate ladder in a global Fortune 500 company and found that I really love it! Now my goal is to retire and open a bakery cafe - where my passion lies is making pies!!! :)


Quoting JustCJ:

Wow you're motivated! :)

Quoting Analeigh2012: Now? I work in Human Resources (15 years). Previously I worked both R&D and QA/QC for a pharmaceutical company (3 years). Before that I was a Vet Tech / Vet Surgical Assistant for large and small animals (2 years). My degree in college (20 years ago) was Microbiology with a minor concentration in Veterinary Medicine.



Quoting JustCJ:

Analeigh what do you do for a living?

Quoting Analeigh2012: Very, very sad. Parents and physicians that do not recommend or fail to protect their children from HPV infections should be ashamed if themselves. I didn't see the interview with Katie Couric, but I have a difficult time believing the vaccine killed her daughter. I worked on the precursor of this vaccine. I know the process it went through, the review by the FDA. It was most definitely NOT fast-tracked and it most definitely provides huge benefits in reducing risk of severe cancer by protecting against the virus that is very common. Sad, sad, sad.




29again
by Gold Member on Dec. 9, 2013 at 9:28 PM

One of my 3 dd got that vax.  I wish to God that I had never done it, made her get that series.  Maybe things would be different.  I would have to say that decision is the only that I truly regret. And the doc wants my son to get it?  NFW. 

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