Gardasil, the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) list of recommended inoculations for teenagers, has been the subject of debate worldwide since it was fast-tracked for approval in the US in 2006. The Merck-manufactured drug was developed to prevent infections caused by HPV, which is a group of 150 related viruses -- 15 of which are linked to cervical cancer. At the heart of the controversies are questions around the need for the vaccine, the efficacy of the vaccine and the fast-growing number of reports of severe reactions to the vaccine. The latter question has moved to the forefront of the debate as safety testing concerns have been raised and the number of vaccine-injured children has grown.
In 1996, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) added many vaccines to its list of recommended inoculations for teenagers. Objections and unanswered questions that have followed incidences of vaccine injuries - particularly those caused by the HPV vaccine, which have been the subject of intense debate worldwide -- highlight the need for awareness among parents about vaccine ingredients and their adverse effects. Although ingredients are listed in the drug inserts, very few parents carefully read through them and doctors rarely spell out a vaccine’s potential side effects before administering the dose. Hence, maintaining personal immunization records for children, from birth through adulthood, is vital for a number of reasons.
Health authorities and the media relentlessly repeat the mantra that vaccines are unequivocally safe, and many uninformed consumers cling to this mantra like a lifeboat. More often than not, however, consumers know little or nothing about the vaccine safety testing process and assume that vaccine manufacturers and regulatory institutions have exercised due diligence in ensuring that vaccines are as safe as possible.