A student in my Microbiology class brought up some new information running about the internet about the Gardasil vaccine against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and concerns about its safety. I have to admit that my first reaction was suspicion. There are a lot of ‘Anti-vaxxers’ out there who have made it their mission (for unknown reasons) to discredit or simply ‘raise questions’ about particular vaccines. More often than not, the vaccine in question is MMR, and the distrust is linked to the Andrew Wakefield article originally published in the Lancet – although, it has since been retracted by all the authors except one (Wakefield) and the Journal itself.
When vaccines started appearing directed against HPV, a new set of questions came to the fore. One major reason for this is that the vaccine targets a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Another issue was the vaccine maker, Merck’s insistence that this vaccine be adopted as one of the many required for public school admittance.
What my student was referring to is a video put out by the Health Sciences Institute, of which she is director. I was eager to look this up and write about it, regardless of the information. Especially because I use HPV as a model disease and Gardasil as a model vaccine in my microbiology class. If there was, indeed, a problem with the vaccine, I wanted to know about it – if for no other reason, to make it a teachable moment.
Unfortunately (for me), this has already been very well researched and written about on Snopes. I strongly suggest anyone who is concerned by the vaccine or these rumors to check out that article. I would also suggest looking at another website’s article about questionable scientific organizations and the views that they promote.