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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vaccine “row” that takes 3 months to start

Some months ago I posted here on my support for the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil. Approximately 200 women die each year from the condition in the Republic of Ireland. This condition is in the news as the Reality TV personality Jade Goody is now in the terminal stages of this form of cancer. The vaccine if introduced would over a long period of time reduce incidence of the condition in Ireland. The occurence of cervical cancer is set to rise by 1.5% per year so when my daughters are in their middle age it may well have doubled. I was particularly disappointed that the Health minister Mary Harney had withdrawn her plans to vaccinate young girls as I knew it mean that while the likes of me could afford to buy the vaccine for my daughters at the appropriate age, others would not. In short I don’t believe a woman’s health should be subject to the family’s ability to pay. It is unusual to vaccinate against a cancer and that’s because in the case of cervical cancer about 66% of cases are caused by a virus HPV. So eventually you could expect about 130 lives to be saved by a policy of vaccination
Arising from my view I joined a facebook group. I subsequently received an email out of the blue from an opponent of the vaccine who claimed that the full truth of the vaccine was not being told. She went on to say I was playing Russian roulette with my child’s health. I disliked the attitude of the group so much that after the second email I received I replied asking them not to contact me again.

Roll forward 3 months and I got an email from the Sunday Tribune setting out the activists complaint that I’d been unfair to her. It seems the activist has approached the paper setting out a number of complaints against the facebook group as she was removed from it eventually. Cllr Ryan in Wexford is charged with asking her not to waste politician’s time. What has the world come to that I’m expected to indulge someone who peddles bad science simply because the unfortunate Jade Goody is in the news for the worst of reasons? Lets get this clear, The vaccine is licensed in the US by the FDA, here by the Irish Medicines Board and HSE. The noted oncologist Prof John Crown also backs the vaccine. Lets me direct on this, If I was diagnosed with a cancer, John Crown is the man I’d look for.

Anyhow today the Tribune says that there is a row and that reader's can conclude that Councillor Ryan is in the eye of the storm! Well in the immortal words of Mohammed Ali, Do I look bruised? I’ll get over it but the reality is that there are women for whom cervical cancer is neither a campaign against a vaccine nor a debate about science but a serious life threatening condition. Bruised? It's worse than that. These women are hurting and it’s a pain and fear I’ll not have to experience because I’m male and that my daughters can hopefully avoid. That’s a reality I’d like to see much less of.

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