Monday, September 17

Debating Gardasil in Canada

On Wednesday, September, 5, 2007, Judith Siers-Poisson was pleased to participate in a panel discussion on The Agenda with Steve Paikin on Ontario Public Television in Toronto, Canada. (You can view the debate by going to this page and selecting the tab that says "Gardasil, Morality and Medicare" and then clicking on "view video" to the right.)

The impetus for the panel was the start of mass vaccination of 8th grade girls in the province of Ontario at the start of the school year. In March 2007 the Canadian federal government announced CA$300million in funding to help provinces vaccinate their girls against HPV, and in August, the premier of Ontario announced a provincial investment of CA$117 million. But then, the August 27, 2007 cover story of Maclean's magazine announced, "Our Girls Aren't Guinea Pigs" and the public debate heated up significantly.

While most of us on the panel agreed that the Maclean's piece did not do the issue a service by focusing primarily on injection reactions, we differed on what we thought the real focus should be. Anne Rochon Ford laid out concerns about the speed with which this was approved, funded and implemented. In addition, she noted, as was very well addressed in the paper written by the Canadian Women's Health Network, that the objectives of this vaccination campaign is not even clear. Is it to eliminate HPV? Is it to eliminate cervical cancer? Will possible elimination of the strains covered by Gardasil increase occurence of other strains against which there is no vaccine? Without answering these questions, the start of a mass vaccination campaign seems ill-advised.

LINK: PR Watch
LINK: Judith Siers-Poisson's blog

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