Charlotte backs mum on vaccine

Waikato Times 14 March 2009

There’s been a lot of debate around the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, but Hamilton teenager Charlotte Dumble sums it up simply and succinctly. “I heard about it through my mum because she really wanted me to get it so that I don’t get cervical cancer.” “Mum” is not your average parent though she’s Waikato Hospital medical officer of health Dr Felicity Dumble. “Having a public health doctor as a mother is a difficult thing,” Dr Dumble says. “She gets all the talks, not just about HPV and immunisation but also about alcohol, drugs, smoking and the rest.” Dr Dumble does not recommend immunisations like the HPV vaccine “willy nilly” though, but rather because of the fact she believes it will save lives.

….But critics have queried the effectiveness of the vaccine in tackling cervical cancer. Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said last year there was still a lack of sufficient evidence behind the relatively short clinical trials of the vaccine. He said overseas medical journals pointed out researchers had not demonstrated how long immunity of the vaccine would last, or whether eliminating some strains of the cancer-causing virus would decrease the body’s natural immunity to other strains. Mr McCoskrie, on the other hand. believes the best strategy for preventing HPV in teenagers is for them to postpone sex and “promote abstinence”. “We are accepting by default that kids are going to be sexually active at a time that is not suitable or safe for them,” he said. “Young people deserve good advice not vaccines for at-risk behaviour.”