Public health by the people

Today, I thought I would mention the latest action by a sane government, lest you think they’re all mad…

Japan recently withdrew its national recommendation to vaccinate young girls against human papillomavirus (HPV)–a very common virus with strains linked to both genital warts and cervical cancer.

The reason? Mounting public concerns over the shot’s adverse effects.

Let’s keep in mind this is the same country that banned Nutrasweet because of health concerns–and one of the first countries to use Stevia in food products. It may be among the few places in the world where the health of the population is more important than the health of big companies’ bottom line.

So I hope officials here at home are paying attention. Because the current position on HPV vaccination in this country couldn’t be more divergent.

In fact, just last month, they pushed for an increase in vaccination rates among teen girls, in response to a recent study supporting its “high” effectiveness. This, despite plenty of unanswered questions.

For example, even if the HPV vaccine’s effectiveness is high, do we really know how many of these girls would have gotten cancer without it? How do we compare those figures?

And does this mean we are never going to see another case of cervical cancer? How do we know if this vaccine even reduces cervical cancer rates along with HPV? And if it does, at what cost?

Only time and research will give us that information. But in typical American “let’s make more money for Big Pharma” fashion, here comes another barbaric premature recommendation. One that could be causing significant harm to this country’s children.

Meanwhile in Japan, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare won’t be suspending vaccination. They’re simply urging local governments not to promote its use, while they continue to investigate adverse effects–like long-term pain and numbness–further.

And of course, Merck–a manufacturer of Gardasil, one of the main HPV vaccines–had to weigh in on the issue. Their comment on the decision:

“While direct causal relationship between the vaccines and serious symptoms observed after inoculation has not been established at this time, we fully understand the anxiety felt by many people in Japan. In response to this decision, we will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders, including (the health ministry), to monitor and verify safety data toward resumption of active promotion for HPV vaccination as soon as possible.”

So let’s get this straight. They understand the anxiety, so they’ll verify safety data… in order to resume vaccine promotion, of course.

Honestly. How’s that for a load of rubbish and double speak? Nothing you wouldn’t expect–but we’re talking about children’s lives here.

As I’ve said time and time again, I’m not against vaccination in principle. But, this vaccine has been out less than a decade. And we have yet to see its full side effect profile.

In fact, when we first started administering Gardasil, there were plenty of side effects reported. Now, somehow, there are none.

Something’s wrong with this picture. So the American public should be concerned about it. And if we’re loud enough, maybe the government will actually start to listen.

Japan Withdraws HPV Vaccine Recommendation for Girls. Medscape. Jun 25, 2013.