Priest urges chastity instead of cervical cancer jab

A CORK priest has questioned the safety of the cervical cancer vaccine due to be rolled out here next month and said parents should instead be extolling the virtues of chastity.

In a letter to this newspaper, Fr Eamonn McCarthy, a curate in Coachford, questioned whether the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine for secondary school girls merely offered a false sense of security, and said “mother nature” like “mother church” was not being heeded.

“At best, the vaccine, like the condom, will only reduce the risk of infection (for four of the 100 or so strains of the virus),” he said. “It offers no guarantees against cervical cancer. Regular smear tests have always proved the best means to detect early signs of cancerous cells and will continue to be recommended in spite of the vaccine.”

He queried how well the product had been tested, what the long-term effects were and whether it had so far prevented one case of cervical cancer.

“A quick surf on the internet yields enough scary evidence to suggest that parents should think very carefully before allowing their young daughters to receive Gardasil, the HPV vaccine,” he said. “Thousands of adverse side-effects have been reported and, worldwide, up to 80 deaths among otherwise healthy young women have been allegedly linked to it. Two states in India have halted the vaccine.”

Fr McCarthy said HPV also gave a lie to claims that condoms are safe.

He also questioned what was being asked of secondary school boys.

“Mother nature is speaking to us through the bitter tears of rampant infection, sub-fertility, sterility and death. Like Mother Church, her cries are not being heeded,” he said. “There is a better way. Parents, do not be afraid to challenge your children to cherish the health and freedom of chastity. It has now become a matter of (eternal) life and death.”

As reported in yesterday’s Irish Examiner, the leading researcher in the development of Gardasil, Dr Diane Harper, has warned of “serious adverse events, including death” associated with it. Concerns have been expressed about more than 18,000 adverse reactions recorded in the US, including 75 deaths.

However, as well as the HSE giving Gardasil its backing, the product’s manufacturer, Merck, has said more than 64 million doses of Gardasil have been distributed worldwide, including 16 million in western Europe, between the launch of the vaccine in June 2006 and the end of June 2010.

“Regulatory agencies and health authorities worldwide and the World Health Organisation have confirmed the good safety profile of Gardasil,” it said. “Prior to licensure, Gardasil had been studied in large clinical studies which lasted more than a decade and included more than 25,000 subjects in 33 countries.”

Meanwhile, the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has again called for pharmacists to be allowed dispense the ‘morning-after’ pill without a prescription. The IPU said pharmacists have the skills to dispense hormonal contraceptives and provide appropriate advice and counselling to such patients.

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