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Should boys be roped into the HPV vaccine?

They’re coming for our sons

We knew this day was coming. It wasn’t enough to put our daughters in harm’s way. No, for maximum gain, they needed to cast a wider net.

And now our sons are caught up in that net, amid promises that it’s all in the name of preserving their health. But is extending the use of Gardasil to include pre-teen and teenage boys actually healthy–or is Merck just fishing for profits?

The first hints that our sons would be targeted came at the end of last year. A year and a half after India had stopped giving the vaccine in the wake of four deaths among girls given the vaccine, and amidst reports that a woman in Australia was leading a charge in the form of a class action suit (there, women reported suffering physical breakdowns, including a report of a heartbreaking miscarriage)… in the midst of all of that, the CDC here in the United States was STILL suggesting that 11- and 12-year-old boys receive the shot.

The official stance used to be that boys “could” receive the vaccination.

Now, that suggestion has become an official guideline–all 11- and 12-year-old boys should be vaccinated. The CDC is also recommending that 13- to 21-year-old males receive the three-dose vaccination (they have the same recommendation in place for women aged 13 to 26).

Meanwhile, Merck’s profits were soaring, up 41 percent even with those stories linking the vaccine to death and heartbreak.

Their reasoning? “Herd immunity”–because women get the HPV infection from men, the CDC thinks men should share the responsibility of protecting the population. Which is a noble thought, sure–if we weren’t talking about something that’s been under-tested and still hasn’t been proven safe or all that effective.

So–where’s the outrage? Most news outlets have been passing along the guidelines like they’re gospel–with no mention of any of the deaths or debilitating effects that have been linked with the vaccine.

Meanwhile, the makers of these HPV vaccines are looking at double the profits.

Luckily, not all communities are blithely standing by. A local news article out of Virginia, which in 2007 became the first state to pass a school mandate that all girls entering the 6th grade must receive the vaccine, details the debate going on there.

The mandate had shady beginnings, of course–before the ink was dry on any federal documents recommending the vaccine, Merck was hoping for mandates across the country. In Virginia, they were successful–thanks in part to targeting then-state Delegate Phil Hamilton, who according to The Virginian Pilot got some campaign funding from Merck…and who is now in federal prison for public corruption.

But legislators have introduced bills to repeal the mandate nearly every year since then. It’s good to see the mandate being challenged, but look more closely at the reasoning and you’ll find that much of the debate in Virginia has to do with the controversy surrounding vaccinating pre-teens against a sexually transmitted disease and the inconvenience of having to get three doses over the course of six months.

Not exactly hitting the real dangers of the vaccine, there, but it’s a start–and there are some families in Virginia who are speaking up about the heavy marketing Merck launched around the time that the mandate was passed.

Of course, the quote that closes the Virginia article isn’t helping matters. The chair of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School reportedly said, “We need to…focus on a simple message: This is a vaccine that prevents cancer.” As long as that kind of misinformation is being spread by so-called experts, we’ve got a long uphill battle.

The folks at Merck must be beside themselves with glee when someone else makes that claim–because they can’t make it themselves. Why? Because it’s not true. The vaccine prevents SOME forms of HPV. And out of those forms, only SOME of those actually cause cervical cancer.

With the government basing recommendations on misinformation and fear-based marketing, I don’t have much hope for the fight against our sons lining up behind their daughters for this risky shot. If you don’t think your child should receive the HPV vaccine, you don’t have to bend to the CDC’s recommendation–stand up for what you believe. You could be saving your child’s life.

Sources:

“HPV Vaccine for Boys Urged By CDC,” ABC News (abcnews.go.com)

“New Vaccine Recommendations for Boys and Diabetics,” The New York Times Well Blog (well.blogs.nytimes.com)

“Five years after HPV vaccine law, state remains split,” The Virginian Pilot (pilotonline.com)