Vaccination is a tricky subject. Lots of people don’t like needles, don’t like doctors and are ignorant enough about the subject that they can make it part of whatever emotionally satisfying narrative suits them best, viz. the Daily mail’s Irish Edition supporting the cervical cancer jab while the British edition opposed it.
Incidentally someone (I haven’t the time) needs to go back and see if any of these conflicting stories were on front covers at the same time, leaving newsagents around the UK/Eire border with very confusing displays.
This example from a blog called Gender Agenda, also about the gardasil cervical cancer vaccine, isn’t typical, but gives an example of the faults in this kind of thinking:
“...women everywhere, including in the west, are used as tools to uphold the current world order, which includes the enrichment of the super-wealthy corporations concentrated in the U.S. and Europe, and other such exploitative entities. Honestly, I can’t even forsee an end to the use of women’s bodies towards this end.“
The post links to two articles which make two criticisms of the vaccine. Firstly, that because Merck is an evil corporation that has lobbied for the jab to be introduced in schools, the jab must be innefective, and secondly that not very many women die of cervical cancer, so why spend the money giving it to all of them when it’s just a ploy to exploit them anyway?
I left the following comment on the post, but it seems to have been blocked, so I’ll shout into the darkness here:
While Merck have obviosly engaged in some fairly shady astroturfing to gain momentum for their approval process, that (ad hominem) argument is irrelevant to the value of the vaccine. The only question here should be: does it work for the money spent? The data seems to suggest
that it is medically effective. But is it cost efective?
Sociologically speaking, this vaccine should be targeted only at sexually active teenagers whose inexperience might lead them to take risks with regard to STDs. Clearly this would be the best use of the vaccine and have a cost benefit ratio that very few would oppose. The problem with doing this is that risky sexual behaviours are highest among socially conservative famillies who would never get the vaccine if it wasn’t part of a national program.
Is it still worth doing on a national scale? Making heavy work of the relatively low number of deaths for cervical cancer ignores that three times as many women are diagnosed with the disease as die from it, and they have to undergo pretty horrid and expensive treatment in order to survive. Their suffering and medical costs should be taken into account in a financial analysis.
There are good political arguments for resisting the vaccine- the success of Mercks rather sticky tactics might inspire more drug companies to follow their example and manufacture demand for their products which would leave us worse off in future crises. Is this political victory worth the cost in lives?