Wednesday, February 07, 2007

To Gardasil, or Not to Gardasil?

I'm in a quandary, folks, and I need your input. Especially yours, swampy. I got into a lively discussion with my dear friend/twin sister (who happens to work for an OB/GYN) about the imperative need to inject my daughter with Gardasil, the new vaccine that, according to their official website, MAY help guard against diseases caused by HPV and some cervical cancers. (Guys, you have my permission to bail on this post now.) Texas will begin REQUIRING girls to receive this vaccine by the fall of 2008.

I am not "anti-medicine," but I am extremely leery of all the drugs that are pushed on today's society. Eating a bunch of crap that makes your tummy hurt? Take a pill so you can continue your gluttony! Only want your period four times a year? There's a pill for that, too! Look at the pretty green moth/sleep fairy! One night, I counted FOURTEEN different drug advertisements during two hours of television. What is going on? You can't open a magazine or watch television or surf the Internet without seeing at least ONE drug ad.

And what of the side effects? They rattle through the list like it's insignificant, but listen carefully and you'll hear horrible terms like "bleeding" and "stroke" and "liver disorders." Or maybe you'll have to wade through four pages of fine print to discover the hidden side effects.

Remember Vioxx? How about Norplant? Oh, and let's not leave out the Ortha Evra patch, which is now under scrutiny b/c of the serious health risks it has been found to cause.

Drug companies want to make money. And they don't always have our best interests in mind. I implore you to read this article before making your judgment.

Personally, I don't trust the pharmaceutical industry. I know that there are fabulous, life-saving treatments and medicines that work, and since my husband is a nurse, I am privy to personal stories of success. But can man really play God, and mess with our biological chemistry to this extent, in such a way that we are much better off?

At this point, I don't want my daughter to receive this new vaccine. It has only recently been introduced to the market, and no one knows what the long-term side effects could be. It MAY help prevent cancer - but what if the side effects create something worse? Please give me your input...


Desert Songbird said...

I have conflicting emotions on this subject because, as you know, I take many, many drugs to control my disease and enhance my life. I don't necessarily buy that the FDA doesn't play a major part in whether new medications reach the general public. People suffering from my disease have been waiting for almost a year for ONE drug that was due to hit the market last spring, a drug that poses less risk to the liver. The FDA has called for multiple additional clinical trials for this drug that could help stop the progress of a deadly disease with less risk to a vital organ, just to prove it is "safe." Gee, I'm thinking, "I'm suffering from a life-threatening disease as it is; if it is effective and generally safe, and I'm willing to take the risk, why not let ME make the decision on whether or not to start the drug?"

I do have a problem forcing meds on people when the efficacy and safety are in question, especially when the intended recipients are so young. Is there truly an "opt out" option? And even so, why should parents have to state a religious or philosophical reason for refusal? How about, "I just don't think it's right?!"

Of course, I could just be spouting hot air and not know a thing about anything...

Karmyn said...

My understanding of Gardasil is that it is a Vaccine - much like getting a shot for mumps,measles,rubella. And, of course there are warnings for side-effects with these. Have you seen the recent sheets of warnings they give parents before giving children the DTP or MMR (or any other) vaccination?

So - if it is just a vaccine, I would think it should be safe for a healthy young woman.

However - I don't question your concern in the least. Fortunately, my daughter is a good 10 years away from having to get it, so by that time, Gardasil should have a history behind it.

Vicki said...

Gosh I'm not sure either.

My first instict is to not get it.

Now maybe if cancer was prominent in your family then might consider it harder.. longer... more in detail. ?

I'm with you. It's not been around long enough.

Matt said...

YOU have a twin sister?!

My first thoughts:

1. Is she good looking?

2. You might ask her about your "questionable" heritage--maybe SHE knows. :)

Angelina said...

Vaccines guard against diseases that are spread through casual contact or through breathing.

The HPV that can cause cervical cancer is a sexually transmitted disease.

I would much rather teach my kid to be very cautious in his sexual practices: as in always use protection, and maybe to insist on a prospective partner getting tested. Condoms are not a guaruntee that you won't get HPV, but apparently studies show that it helps.

How can a state require you to take a particular drug? You aren't required to take regular vaccines, though you won't be able to go to public school without it. There's still a choice.

I have to take medications so I'm not anti medication. I am anti any meds that have not been time tested for safety before giving it to children. Or anyone. I wouldn't personally agree to let my kid get the shot.

James Burnett said...

Hmmm, if you don't mind a guy other than Matt commenting on this I share your hesitance. I'd wait on that vaccine. It seems like every couple of years "they" come up with another must-have vaccine for something. And then after everyone scrambles to get it we find out a few years later that it makes people sicker or turns 'em sterile or something.

The conspiracy theorist in me says this sounds like some sort of mass drug company expirement being funneled through the fed. government.

The Sarcasticynic said...

Did anyone other than doctors know about HPV before Gardasil's "Tell Someone" commercials? In the early part of the twentieth century, vaccines were needed because there were numerous people falling to the illnesses and it was well known that to not take them could be tantamount to disaster.

In my opinion, the Governor of Austin is making this century's little known HPV into last century's Polio, and Merck & Co into Jonas Salk.

Claudia said...

I'm also of the mind that if it's not needed, I won't take it. And like you said, who knows what the chain reaction will create?? I'm suspicious of it...I wish you the best on it. What does your hubby say about it, being a nurse?

momto3cubs said...

Well, I haven't read a whole lot about it, since I only have sons, but I thought of it as a vaccine, and I don't have a problem with vaccines. The benefits usually far outweigh the risks. I would probably do it.

Tiggerlane said...

desert songbird - I'm hoping the federal govt doesn't mandate the vaccine, but I have an "out" if they do. Like you, I feel it should be up to us to make a choice to take drugs or not...and in your case, I know that they can be extremely vital to improving quality of life.

karmyn - those flyers for the "regular" vaccines are kinda daunting. I was warned by a physician not to allow my daughter to get the new (at the time) chickenpox vaccine, but she ended up with the disease before we were forced to make that choice. I'm just not sure the science is down pat on this one yet.

vicki - no cancer in hubby's family, and not knowing any of my biological relatives leaves me no clue about cancer in my family. I'm gonna hold out on it for a while, if I can!

matt - click on the link and judge for yourself! We just call each other sisters, since everyone else in this town mistakes us for sisters, and we're best friends. Her heritage is partially unknown as well, so we COULD, in some weird twist of fate, be sisters.

angelina - I'm hoping my 13-year old daughter remains abstinent for a while, so I can use that as a defense against her getting the vaccine! Maybe in 3 years or so, they'll know more about Gardasil. I agree that it's not the kind of thing the govt should mandate - b/c you can't just catch it casually in the school environment.

james - you are ALWAYS welcome to weigh in! I agree with you - I hate to be so cynical about the FDA/pharmaceutical companies, but the times seem to dictate it!

sarcasticynic - thanks for stopping by! And I had only heard of HPV b/c of my friend who works in the OB/GYN office, and that was only in the last year. As a member of Rotary International, I'm an ardent supporter of the fight against Polio and the campaign to vaccinate every child...but you're right, this ISN'T the same.

claudia - the hubby is against it, and he usually lambasts me for not taking Motrin when I have a headache, etc. He is very concerned about the safety of this drug, seeing as it is so new. He doesn't want our daughter to be forced to take it.

momto3cubs - you don't know how often I wish I had boys! I just wish I knew how well this latest vaccine has been tested for adverse side effects.

Matt-Man said...

While I am all for any added layer of protection to combat disease, I think Angelina makes a very good point. HPV induced cancer can be prevented through behavior alone. Cheers...

Angelina said...

I never heard of HPV until I had an unusual pap last year. (Something I know you all wanted to know) and so they tested me for it. I did a lot of reading about it and talked with my doctor too. It turned out that I didn't have HPV, luckily. However, it IS very prevalent. The only reason why so many of us don't know about it is because it generally isn't dangerous and most people carry it without any symtoms. There's only one dangerous strain and that's the one that can cause cervical cancer, obviously only in women.

dearfriend/twin sister said...

i can't begin to tell you what a gigantic mistake you are making. think about what you are saying. there are all kinds of risks associated with ALL DRUGS. we continue to take medications on a daily basis that we have no idea what the long term affects are. who knows that if for some reason my genetic dna predispositions me to certain disease or interactions that happen to show up before i have children. anyone who has had their cervix biopised, frozen, or lazered would never want it to happen to their daughter. hpv is a common virus. it is a simple virus. what it does to some people can be prevented. i am a carrier of hpv and i don't want my daughter to have to go through the painful, humiliating, and life-long experience of cervical dysplasia. once you become sexually active, you are no longer a candidate for this vaccine. so certain high risk girls ( such as my daughter, seeing that her mom is a carrier) should be given the vaccine. i don't want my daughter to get cervical cancer or dysplasia and if i can increase her odds by 80% of NOT getting it, i will protect her. whatever the risk.

Tiggerlane said...

The sister weighs in!

So...can you tell it WAS a lively discussion? Always is at my house! (We can BOTH talk a lot faster than we write.)

Now that you see the other side from my dear friend/twin sister (which is only fair - thanks, Chuck!), anyone wish to retackle it?

Hey, and where is Swampy?? She's a survivor. I need her opinion, too.

The very nice man said...

I think you are very wise to question this line of action.
"Can man really play God", you ask. Well, they frequently do and frequently with dire consequences. You must trust and follow your heart on this one and I know you will do the right thing!

Shauna said...

I am not a pill popper. . .avoid it as much as possible. . .

I would question it also. I would want to know the side-effects, etc.

But like Karmyn, if it is a vaccine it would be good to do. . .

Definately question, question, question. . .Luckily I only have boys. . .

Claudia said...

I just saw a post on this and thought of you...
it's also from a survivor...

Tiggerlane said...

matt-man - that's the stance I'm taking for now.

angelina - you are so brave to share! And finding out that MEN can also be carriers, I wonder, why is this vaccine not being touted for both sexes?

dear friend/twin sister - I appreciate your viewpoint; I truly do. And I'm not against vaccinations at all. What I'm worried about is drug companies rushing their products to market w/o proper testing, and I don't want my daughter to be one of their first guinea pigs. Drug companies want to make money, and as fast and furiously as they are pushing new drugs these days, I don't blindly trust that they've "figured this one out." I'm hoping we can wait a few years before mandating the drug, so we can all be informed about the real side effects.

Erik - thanks for the vote of confidence! Sometimes it's real scary being a parent, wondering of you're making all the right choices.

shauna - I was surprised to find out this morning that boys can be carriers! Who knows? Maybe they're require boys to get the vaccine, too.

claudia - thanks for sending the post. It was a completely different perspective, and gave me more to think about.

I'm going out now to get my kid a chastity belt.

Angelina said...

I can attest to the pain of having your cervix scraped and biopsied. I had that done just to find out if I had HPV. So even though I don't have it, I know how awful it is to experience some of those things.

I would like to know why men don't have to take it too. I was going to say that it's because they might get some genital warts, or no symtoms at all, but it isn't ever life threatening to them. Then I realized how ridiculous it is not to have them taking the shots too because they do just as much damage by spreading it around.

I would still not go for it if I had a daughter.

Mugsy said...

Okay, a guy's viewpoint:

Your daughter needs the vaccine, but be aware that it requires THREE injections over a six month period to inoculate you.

This is an anti-viral drug, which are generally safe. The benefits definitely outweigh the risks here (you can't catch cancer from a shot). Though a tainted vaccine could conceivably cause sterility.

The medical community is still a little behind the curve on the cause of cancer. Cancer is the result of the body trapped in a "damage/heal" cycle (remember you read it here first), either environmental or via damaged genetics. Unlike damage our bodies were designed to resist/ignore (eg: every time you move, you damage skin and muscle cells), the body has a difficult time managing repetitive damage.

For example, smokers damage their lungs from the extreme heat and toxic carcinogens in smoke. In the short term, the lungs can handle the constant repair-job between smokes, but after a while, the body gets stuck in a healing cycle, unable to shut off, resulting in runaway cell growth.

If you are suffering genetic damage that causes the body to attack itself (auto-immune disease), the body must constantly heal the damage being caused by your damaged genes, and eventually gets locked in runaway repair (ie: cancer).

Some people's bodies are genetically more resistant to getting stuck in this cycle. Their "shutoff switch" never fails.

HPV is a virus. If you catch it, it causes damage that your body must heal. But the body has a very difficult time killing viruses on its own without help/medicine. If the infection is not cured, the body gets stuck trying to "heal" the damage caused by a disease it can not cure. If your body gets trapped in a heal-cycle, runaway cell growth occurs, which is what cancer is.

Hope this helps.

(PS: Gov. Perry only did the right thing because he was lobbied hard to do so by the same pharma that makes this dug. That's the GOP for you.)

Tiggerlane said...

angelina - yeah, I'm still on the fence. I guess I'm waiting for a little more proof...and I still need to do some research before I'll be sold.

Mugsy - I'm GLAD for a male perspective!! But your point of view made me wonder, if what you said is true, is it possible that anyone who contracts ANY form of the herpes virus, be it genital, oral or shingles, has the same risk of getting into that constant healing cycle?

Susan in va said...

Having young children with new vaccines coming out almost every single year - I KNOW how you feel. Since my first child was born 7 years ago, there have been 4 new REQUIRED vaccines added to the cocktail of immunizations they get at well-visits.

I wait 1-2 years before deciding whether or not to give my child the new vaccine. By that time, there is usually more information gathered about harmful side effects, etc. so I feel I can make an informed decision.

It will be a few years before Funny Girl has to get this vaccination and I've already thought about it...what to do?

Each mother will have to make that decision. I feel certain you will make the one that's right for your daughter.

momto3cubs said...

Tiggerlane, I think the answer to the question you asked mugsy is Yes.

Claudia said...

off to the nunnery with her!! lol

Occidental Girl said...

I agree with you: the drug hasn't been out long enough to know the effects. Do children really need it right now? I don't think the benefits outweight the unknown questions at this point. Maybe in the future when it's been thoroughly studied with human use.

The problem I have with the Texas situation is the fact that it's MANDATORY. It doesn't leave a choice for parents. Also, the big problem I have is the link between the Governor and the pharmaceutical rep. That smells.

I think it's criminal to treat human being's health as though all it were worth were dollar figures for the bottom line of a company.

It's such a complicated system, but anytime profit is involved, it seems like humans get greedy and forget about what's important.

swampy said...

Hey Tigger...sorry I've not been over here in a while. February brings lots of projects on my list above blogging. BUT, I am honored that you care to know what I think. It's just my opinion and based on my life experiences, so if what I say conflicts with someone else's opinion, that only means I'm probably not on the same page historically in my personal life as the other person. Had I experienced what s/he has experienced, I might agree with them 100%. Is that clear as mud? First, I don't like anyone telling what I HAVE to do, especially when my children are involved. My girls are in their 20's and 30's, with children of their own now, so I'm more in the "grandma" thinking mode when it comes to something like this vaccine. I had them immuzined when they were little and never thought twice about any consequences. My uncle had polio when he was little, survived it, and has only a slight limp now. Because of that very close call for him, I just knew my babies would have that vaccines. I, too and a member of Rotary and contribute to that fund to eradicate that disease. I know I'm rambling, but just trying to give you background so you'll know why I feel the way I do. If asked the question right this minute, "Would you have your daughters immunized for this?"...I would say yes, I will. BUT, if someone told me I HAD to do it, then I would probably balk and do quite a bit of research first. In the long run, would still let them take the shot. Many are against this because they think it is giving the teens permission to go ahead and have sex. I don't go along with that, necessarily. I don't know the statistics on how many of our adolescents are sexually active, but having taught in middle schools for most of my 25 years, I can tell you MANY MANY of them are and their parents turn a blind eye to that fact and deny it. SO, with my girls in mind and my profession having shown me what's really going on out there, I would have mine vaccinated. I think it would be interesting to see what connections there are with the "Texas government" officials and the pharmaceutical company that has developed this drug.

dearfriend/twin sister said...

ok, i totally agree that "mandatory" vaccines are a form totalitarianism and reek of a bi-gone era. not every child will be a candidate for this vaccine. i suggest screening and high risk children get vaccinated. the vaccine has been studied and tested. i've been hearing about this vaccine for over 8 years, and it's been in the works for longer than that. working in the medical field does has it's advantages, but at the same time too much information can cause anxiety and apprehensiveness about everything. it's something to definately think about and ponder.

C said...

I think that we don't have rights anymore. It's like they know that biological warfare is out there happening as we speak, type and these vaccines are helping us without our knowing it. But consider all the preservatives we consume. Those are not natural either and perhaps are part of the root problem in most diseases. Most of our food has a pretty lengthy shelf life unless it's dairy or meat and even those items are pumped full of hormones.

Piglet said...

i'm with you on totally not trusting the pharmaceutical industry.

i struggled with getting my son's vaccine's after i researched it.

Mugsy said...

Sorry for the late reply, Tig. You asked:

> Mugsy - I'm GLAD for a male perspective!! But your point of view made me wonder, if what you said is true, is it possible that anyone who contracts ANY form of the herpes virus, be it genital, oral or shingles, has the same risk of getting into that constant healing cycle?

So far, that hasn't been the case. I can only assume it has something to do with the body's ability to respond/control other virus's ("virii"?). I know that the body can actually "heal" herpes, just never to the degree where it is killed off completely, so it keeps coming back. HPV on the other hand is (TTBOMK) immune to the body's own defenses and never weakens. And/Or, damage done by the other diseases is sufficiently severe to trigger the cycle. If I had to guess, that is probably the case.

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