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HPV Vaccine Safety

As the OK! Magazine resident doctor I was asked to comment on Melinda Messengers recent refusal to vaccinate against this cancer causing virus. Her is my response:

It can be found here with supporting videos: http://www.ok.co.uk/lifestyle/960736/hpv-vaccinination-safe-what-is-human-papillomavirus-infection-melinda-messenger

This is the text. 

Melinda Messenger has caused a storm this week with her very vocal announcement that she has not allowed her 13 year old daughter to have the routine HPV vaccine that is given to girls aged 12-13 in school. So before we get into the rights and wrongs of that decision, what is HPV and the vaccine against it? HPV is short for Human Papilloma Virus. It’s a virus which is carried by many of us and is sexually transmitted. Infact estimates say that half of 15-24 year olds carry it and by 13 years old 3.7% of girls have it. It’s an important virus because most people don’t know that they have it and certain strains of it cause Cervical Cancer. It is predicted that if all girls are vaccinated before they are sexually active, 70% of cervical cancers will be wiped out! This is fantastic news. Cervical cancer is a treatable cancer if caught early, but as it is detected by cervical smear tests many women don’t have their tests on time and the first test is at age 25 by which time half of girls are carrying the virus! Jade Goody was one of these unfortunate women who sadly died of it unnecessarily. Melinda basis her decision on a study from the US that looked at 213 women with early menopause (POF). 88 of those women had had the virus. There has been no link made between the two but Melinda thinks that it is enough reason, along with some reports of women being tired all of the time, to not protect her daughter. I think this is silly. Not because she is doing the right thing and looking into things before giving them to her children, of course she should. But because there were more women in that group who hadn’t had the vaccine, so there is no evidence of a link at all. I am by no means a supported of vaccines without question, but I do that questioning through proper studies and evidence, Melinda hasn’t. Lets not forget, cervical Cancer kills, early menopause doesn’t. And whilst early menopause is of course awful, there are lots of solutions, including donor eggs and advances are being made daily. As a mother myself, I would prefer my daughter to be protected against a disease which might kill her than worry about babies in the future. I am sure we would all prefer that the women who have died of this awful disease had been protected and were still here.

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