Why would teen girls from poor families pass on the $390 Gardasil vaccine?

I spotted this USA Today headline while waiting in line at Starbucks: “Poorer Girls Not Getting HPV Vaccine for Cervical Cancer.”

When I got home, I went to the USA Today website and read the “bad” news: In 2008, well over half of all teen girls in Rhode Island received the Gardasil vaccine, while only 16 percent of teen girls in Mississippi received the vaccine.

Well…do the math and it makes perfect sense. RI is a comparatively rich state and the three required doses of the Gardasil vaccine cost nearly $400.

The word “DUH!” comes to mind.

This disproportion between Rhode Island rich and Mississippi poor is seen as a woeful injustice, of course. It has to be seen that way because the article portrays Gardasil as a life-saving cancer vaccine, downplaying what it really is: a human papillomavirus vaccine that does not in any way guarantee blanket protection from cervical cancer.

Meanwhile, the side effects are brushed off as inconsequential. And then there’s this note (referring to Barbara Slade at the CDC): “Although 32 people who got the vaccine later died, she says there is no pattern to the deaths that suggests the vaccine is to blame.”

Well…other than the OBVIOUS pattern that all the deaths occurred in healthy young women after they received the vaccine. (By the way, as of last July, the FDA’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System put the number of deaths potentially linked with Gardasil at 47. But, you know–32… 47… What’s the diff, right?)

Seems to me those poorer girls are the lucky ones when it comes to the Gardasil vaccine. And now I really do feel sorry for those poor little rich girls…

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson


“Poorer Girls Not Getting HPV Vaccine for Cervical Cancer” Liz Szabo, USA Today, 3/19/10, usatoday.com