One less? One more.
Gardasil is a vaccine used to prevent most types of cervical cancer caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. It’s been pretty heavily publicized through the “One Less” campaign to get girls vaccinated. The key word here is girls because Gardasil is currently only indicated for females 9-26 years old. The logic behind that specific age group is that the vaccine is not effective on exposures prior to getting vaccinated and that by a certain age, one has likely already had a lot of opportunities to come across HPV.
Now Merck, the maker of Gardasil, wants to get FDA approval to have Gardasil indicated for females 27-45 years old. On a side note, it entertains and irks me that being 27 is considered being one of the “older women” as I would like to think that when I’m 27, I’ll still be vibrant and youthful. Seriously though, I have a very hard time believing the vaccine will be as effective in “more established” women just based on logistics of life experience, let alone any kind of metabolic differences that may exist. I suppose with the changing dynamics of sex and marriage, the vaccine could still have some benefit for this proposed age group, but it transparently seems to be a ploy to generate more revenue.
For the girls who are in the “one less” age group but not yet the age of majority, there was a lot of controversy over whether to make vaccination mandatory in certain states. The traditionalist in me has trouble with mandatory vaccination because there are many situations where amazing medical breakthroughs were later found to be harmful (e. g. the Fen-phen diet pills in the 90’s). However, the progressive in me has a hard time with denouncing vaccination or having no governmental promotion of it because there are also situations from the past where we were so sure something was safe but actually was not (e. g. smoking).
As for my female peers in the “one less” age group, now is the time to decide whether Gardasil is for you or now. As a future physician, I just want to be able to present the options as objectively as possible and let each individual decide for herself.