HPV vaccine Gardasil is predicted to eliminate cervical cancer in Australia. Picture: Makin Brianne
HPV vaccine Gardasil is predicted to eliminate cervical cancer in Australia. Picture: Makin Brianne

Time for anti-jabbers to quit jibbering

FIRST it was no jab no play, then no jab no pay … now I'm about ready to stick a needle in my eye.

Just when I thought I was safe from anti-immunisation arguments, given my children are finally beyond the years of regular inoculations, along comes the next round of scheduled anti-vax rhetoric to prick my ears - and my anger.

Handling pre-teen hormones is bad enough, but with that age also comes dealing with the first dose of the HPV vaccine.

Trade named Gardasil or Cervarix, Australia invented the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine that protects against several strains of the sexually transmitted virus - which triggers 99 per cent of cervical cancers as well as other diseases.

In fact, experts predict Australia is likely to become the first country to effectively eliminate cervical cancer, expected within the next 40 years thanks to the vaccine's effectiveness.

Among Australian women aged 18 to 24, the HPV rate has dropped from 22.7 per cent to just 1.1 per cent over the past 10 years, according to research recently published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Before the vaccination program, almost all sexually active people had contracted HPV.

The vaccine also protects against many types of anal cancer, vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer - not to mention genital warts. Seriously, these are diseases you don't even want to say, let alone contract.

And the risk? Well, according to those in the know - and by that I mean people with actual science and medical degrees, backed up by decades-long research and studies - is next to none.

As of 2017, 71 countries include the HPV jab in their routine vaccinations. The vaccine is on the World Health Organisation's List of Essential Medicines which details the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system.

So why is participation in the HPV immunisation program only at 77 per cent of high school students?

Because parents - intelligent, well-intentioned parents - are scared.

Every time I see someone post some anti-vax 'article' on social media, I want to scream. Actually, I do. In all-caps. Eg: WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

But it's not entirely their fault. Someone is trying to scare them and they've taken the bait.

While the tinfoil hat wearers point the finger at 'Big Pharma' and its alleged desire to keep us all in ill health and themselves in the money, this just doesn't add up.

There is far more money to be made from a population riddled with the diseases this jab prevents than from the jab itself.

Beyond that, the idea that doctors and scientists would choose to withhold information to keep people in a state of disease in order to make money beggars belief.

Professor Ian Frazer developed a world-first vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.
Professor Ian Frazer developed a world-first vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.

It's almost like the anti-vax side has its own … wait for it … agenda.

I'm pointing the finger - in this case - at Big Morality.

Yes, I made that up. Exactly like they do.

I dare you to investigate any anti-Gardasil argument. Generally you'll find them plastered on conspiracy websites. Go ahead and see if you can find any factual, scientifically verified information.

When you can't, take a closer look at where the source material is from. You just might find it's from groups with a hard-right Christian background. Groups such as the Australian Family Association, a conservative political group who oppose same-sex marriage, abortion and a number of issues relating to women's sexuality.

It's their right to hold those beliefs … but it also means they are diametrically opposed to a drug which can be seen to allow women more sexual freedom. Also, they are not scientists or doctors. Duh.

It frustrates me as a journalist and a mother that so many parents are sucked in by this true "fake news".

I hate using that term, given it's so often levelled at real news by leaders and groups who dislike which don't suit their narrative.

So let this be a reminder that objective reporting is priceless. As is evidence-based medicine.

If you're suspicious of the scientific facts, perhaps you need to ask yourself why? Don't let your trust issues stand in the way of your child's safety.

Every parent I know would take a bullet for their baby … so for God's sake, let them take a needle.

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