FEBRUARY 2020 • LONGISLANDPRESS.COM 17
POINT OF VIEW
VACCINE FEARS UNWARRANTED
BY DR. MICHAEL B. GROSSO
Medical Director, Huntington Hospital
More than 100,000 people have
signed petitions opposing a New
York State proposal that would mandate
human papillomavirus (HPV)
immunization for school children.
One argument is about politics; the
other is about science. And they
could not be more different.
As pediatricians, we aim to advance
the health and best interest
of children. This doesn’t mean that
whatever we say, goes. Parents may
disagree with our advice, and unless
that disagreement places a child at
immediate risk of injury, there are
times we accept this.
While there are scientific reasons
to believe that mandatory children's
HPV immunization would advance
childrens’ health, I understand those
who feel that this is government
overreach. This is not for scientists or
health professionals to decide. We’re
just one voice in the room.
On the other hand, some people
are asserting that the vaccine is too
new, the track record too unclear,
and serious adverse events too
frequent. They cite cases of death
after immunization, and that there’s
reason to believe the risks are not
worth the benefit. But as late New
York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
famously said, “Everyone is
entitled to his own opinion, but not
to his own facts.”
These assertions are simply not true.
Some are serious distortions of the
data. Others are pure fiction.
There is too little room here to
review all the facts, but here are
a few. The vaccine isn’t new, and
like all vaccines in the U.S., it has
been tested in development, in
prelicensure trials, and ever since
its release. Death among vaccine
recipients? The journal Pediatrics
recently reported a thorough
review of HPV vaccine safety and
concluded that no serious adverse
events were attributable to this
vaccine, and the overall safety
profile was very similar to what
was seen in prelicensure studies. A
few teenagers pass out immediately
Were this vaccine utilized for every
eligible person, more than 30,000
new cancers would be prevented
and 6,000 lives saved annually. We
would look like Australia, where
immunization rates are high and
HPV is expected to go extinct within
My advice? Sign the petition if that’s
how you feel. Then talk to your pediatrician
about HPV vaccine. Better
yet, get your child the vaccine at the
11-, 10-, or 9-year visit.
The science is robust. Being immunized
against HPV is far safer than
lifelong exposure to cancer risk due
to human papillomavirus.
"The science is robust."
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