Florida Anti-Vaccine Group Ignores Facts, Says It's Not Anti-Vaccine

The Health Regulation Committee on Wednesday voted seven to zip in favor of SB 1116, a proposal to give parents of sixth-graders information on the human papillomavirus vaccine, which helps protect females from cervical cancer. 

As discussed yesterday, the original version of the bill would have added the vaccine to Florida's list of recommended vaccines for school-aged children. But that was too risky given anti-vaccine folks' proclivity for yelling misinformation and stoking angry mobs. So now, instead of making it easier for doctors to recommend a vaccine proven to protect against cancer, the bill -- if approved -- will allow schools to distribute some easy-to-lose flier on the drug. 

KNOW Vaccines -- the Florida branch of the National Vaccine Information Center -- sent an opposition letter to state Sen. Rene Garcia, chair of the Health Regulation Committee. Here, a look at some of the dubious arguments offered by the group:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearly states there is no proof that the HPV virus is the cause of cervical cancer. The Gardasil vaccine was developed to prevent a limited number of HPV infections but is falsely advertised as an anti-cervical cancer vaccine.

Actually, the first indication for Gardasil listed on the FDA's Approved Products website is "prevention of vulvar and vaginal cancer," while the third indication is "cervical cancer." It's perfectly fine for Big Pharma to advertise its products for approved indications. Also, the FDA is in the business of regulating pharmaceutical products, not carrying out research to determine what viruses are responsible for what disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that "each year, about 12,000 women get cervical cancer in the U.S. Almost all of these cancers are HPV-associated."

The discussion and decisions regarding sexually transmitted diseases and children should take place between parents and healthcare providers and the state should not be endorsing this controversial HPV vaccine.

This isn't a discussion about sexually transmitted diseases. It's a discussion about whether a young girl should be given a vaccine that protects against several strains of a sexually transmitted infection that cause the bulk of cervical cancer cases. Failing to mention the whole cancer aspect is the exact opposite of promoting informed consent. 

More than 15 HPV types are associated with cancer of the cervix and other genital cancers affecting women and men. Gardasil vaccine contains 2 of 15 HPV types most associated with cervical cancer and 2 HPV types associated with genital warts.

So? The two strains Gardasil protects against are responsible for 75 percent of all cervical cancers. 

Gardasil vaccination involves a series of 3 injections over 6 months. Each injection costs $120 and all 3 injections are required.

That's like three months of car insurance payments. Except that instead of collision, you just don't get cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer has been in decline for years with no vaccine. It declined by 74% from 1955 to 1992 and declined another 17% between 1998 and 2002 according to the American Cancer Society.

People didn't just stop getting cancer. Rather, scientific advancement -- particularly in the field of diagnostics -- has allowed us to get a whole lot better at managing diseases. Still, "more than 17,300 HPV-associated cancers occur yearly in women," according to the CDC. Preventive measures such as vaccines are key to further driving down the rates. 

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