HPV Vaccine: no benefit to the “older” woman

Cited from the website MedPage Today, medical experts are now saying that HPV vaccination for the “older woman” holds virtually no health benefit.  For women older than their mid 20’s, vaccination has been found to prevent “virtually no cancer-causing infections.” The study results were presented by a physician with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Oakland at a meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists.  Currently, the CDC recommends vaccination in women up to age 26, but other countries encourage vaccination for women as old as 44, and the U.S. is considering implementing similar guidelines.  But perhaps this research could help them see that this is not necessary and may even help prevent more serious complications from a vaccine that isn’t making many friends.

The study’s author says that the vaccine is most effective when given to girls between the ages of 10 and 14–an age that has not been receptive to the vaccine for a variety of reasons.  Primarily, parental refusal and a lack of initiative to discuss sexual activity at an age that is perceived to be “too young” has dropped vaccination rates among this age group.

Women ages 20 to 24 could see a prevention rate of no more than 45%–a number that is far too low when compared to the extreme side effects that have been reported that includes Guillain Barre Syndrome, disabling muscle weaknesses, seizures and even death.  As women’s ages increased, effectiveness of the shot dropped dramatically. Researchers stated that for women between 40 and 44, the vaccine would prevent no more than 10% of cervical cancers.  Those numbers are hardly impressive.

“Healthcare providers and policy-makers sifting through marketing messages in search of clinical relevance need to understand the natural history of HPV infection to understand the potential benefits of HPV vaccination,” said Dr. Kinney. “The natural history of HPV infection in the general population is imperfectly represented by clinical trials with carefully selected, sexually inexperienced populations.”

“Dr. Kinney’s health system recommends vaccination through age 18, and encourages women ages 19 to 26 to “talk to your doctor.” The American Cancer Society found “insufficient evidence to recommend for or against vaccination of women ages 19 to 26.”

Even a reputable and reliable source like the American Cancer Society suggests that there just isn’t a good enough reason to vaccinate women between 19 and 26–besides the pressure from physicians and a struggling Gardasil manufacturer to boost sales at any cost.

Dr. Kinney goes to discuss how this very relevant, very important data will likely never hold up to the multi-million dollar advertising campaign produced by Merck to boost sales of a mostly unnecessary drug.

“This is a communication between physicians, hoping to influence regulatory and insurance compensation personnel, rather than to effectively change the debate in the public arena,” said Dr. Kinney. “There is no way that an abstract presented at the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists meeting can compete with a $10 million a month advertising budget.”


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