HPV Vaccine Stalemate: More Positive Research, More Parental Skepticism

By  | 

vaccine debateDr. Amanda Dempsey from the University of Colorado Denver really wants to see teens vaccinated against HPV. She wants parents to understand just how much research has gone into making the best protection possible. Unfortunately, a new survey shows that more parents distrust HPV vaccinations than ever before, and the results are disheartening for scientists and doctors supportive of the breakthrough vaccine that can protect against cancer.

The percentage of teens receiving all of their doctor-recommended vaccines has increased slightly in recent years, but a full three-quarters of teen girls were not up to date on their HPV vaccines in 2010. And from 2008 to 2010, the percentage of parents who were concerned about the safety of the vaccines actually increased, even though various studies have shown that drugs like Gardasill do not have serious side effects.

Dr. Dempsey tells Reuters Health, “Safety concerns have always risen to the top of the pile, in terms of being one of the main reasons people don’t get vaccinated, which is unfortunate because this is one of the most well-studied vaccines in terms of safety and is extremely safe.”

Conducting the recent survey, Dr. Paul Darden from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City seemed baffled by the continued debate and frustrated by the proliferation of misinformation, telling parents, “HPV is the first vaccine that will prevent cancer which is a tremendous health benefit.” He and Dr. Dempsey encourage parents to speak directly with the medical professionals they trust about their questions and concerns.

The problem with Dr. Darden’s and Dr. Dempsey’s impassioned defense of the vaccines however, is that the researchers have been paid consultants or employees of pharmaceutical companies. And more than anything, it’s this industry that vaccine-doubters don’t trust. Simply by working with the companies, these intelligent people have sold their soul, and their views can no longer be trusted.

More than that, the idea of trusting our doctors at all seems to have fallen by the wayside for some. Parents stopped trusting their pediatricians the minute they found WebMD and were suddenly able to come up with their own diagnosis. The medical industry hasn’t helped at all, often ignoring the needs of their customers in favor of ever-growing profits.

From a parent’s point of view, I have to wonder if there’s anything that can be done to actually bring the anti-vaxxers around. Other than government regulators, who surely are trusted even less than big business, pharmaceutical companies are the only ones with the money to invest in in-depth, long-range research in drugs and vaccines. Scientists who perform the research will always be seen as being “in the pocket” of big pharma. And without established trust, is there really anything that anyone can do to convince the naysayers? Is there any progress to be made in the vaccine battle?

Doctors and researchers have been attempting to prove that vaccines like the HPV vaccine are safe and necessary for our kids. Antivaxxers are trying to prove that doctors and researchers can’t be trusted. And most parents are caught in the middle. I’m not sure that another study or survey will change much.

Does anyone else feel like we’ve reached a vaccine stalemate?

(Photo: jang14/Shutterstock)