Cervical Cancer Vaccine – How Safe is Safe?

Note: Sorry it’s a little old this article but I’ve had major issues trying to sort my *&^^$ computer out. It’s taken me (or rather my hubby) a couple of weeks to get me back online at Orble. Anyway, I still feel this is a relevant issue for all parents …

As a public, we place our trust in the medical profession. When a vaccine becomes available we rejoice at the news and quietly make the assumption that it is one hundred percent safe. Well, maybe parents need to question a little more. In a report featured in The Age, one of the first groups of schoolgirls was vaccinated against the new cervical cancer vaccine at Sacred Heart Girls’ College in Oakleigh. According to the report 26 girls visited the sick bay immediately after having the vaccination, while five of the girls took ill, one of whom remains under observation.

Alarmingly, the co-creator of the vaccine conceded that the reaction was completely normal. The school’s principal claimed there is no need for concern, and confirmed that further vaccinations will still take place in June.

It astounds me that such a blasé attitude towards this exists. It’s wonderful news that the vaccine exists, and that is being rolled out across Victorian schools. But it’s terrifying to think that they’ll continue according to schedule despite girls having negative reactions to it. That this just be shrugged off is appalling. Isn’t it the responsibility of the school and the creators of the vaccine to ensure it’s completely safe? It would have been my assumption that any hint of the vaccine causing adverse reactions would result in those vaccinations ceasing immediately for further testing to be carried out.

Where’s the duty of care in all this? Yes, maybe it just happened that those particular girls were sensitive to vaccinations. But what if they weren’t? It’s a new vaccination, therefore it would be fitting that more rigorous checking be conducted. Instead, the reaction was very dismissive. “Professor Frazer said there was no reason to be concerned and it was common for young women to faint after receiving injections.” This coming from the co-creator of the vaccination is extremely disturbing. I recall having vaccinations as a child, in particular the Rubella vaccination. I formed part of a queue of Grade Six girls and we each went in for our vaccination with not one of us fainting. I completely refute that statement made by Frazer. What’s more, 26 girls being affected is not merely a case of queasiness, especially when five of these girls were hospitalised, two of which were kept in overnight.

It angers me not only that Frazer dismissed the significant reaction to the vaccination, but that the school principal also disregarded it. If I were a parent of one of these schoolgirls I would be furious that my daughter was exposed to something potentially harmful. But I would be even more irate if, knowing about the reactions, the school continued with the vaccinations. Isn’t it common sense to err on the side of caution? Apparently not!

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