Janet McMillan writes (February 26) that mothers should not let the hysterical comments from people who do not know enough about research put them off their daughters being protected through the HPV vaccine.

I based my decision not to vaccinate my daughter on Dr Diane Harper's findings.  She was contracted by Merck to head the clinical trials for this vaccine because of her credentials, 20 years of HPV vaccine research and development.  The only hysterical comments surrounding this vaccine are those lauding it as a cervical cancer vaccine.

This is simply not true, says Dr Harper in a Radio NZ interview with Ministry of Health Senior Advisor, Dr Allison Roberts on August 1 2008.   It is a HPV vaccine for four strains of the virus.  Dr Harper said it will be another 20-30 years before researchers can make the claim it is a cervical cancer vaccine, and that parents and young girls need to be aware of this.


She also asked Dr Roberts to postpone this vaccination programme for several years, that our government take a wait and see approach due to her concerns.  Dr Roberts said the programme would continue as planned.  Dr Harper asked Dr Roberts that parents and girls also be made aware of three other facts concerning this vaccine:

  The vaccine has not been tested on girls under 15 years.

  Immunity has been shown to wane after five years and booster shots are highly likely.

  That there have been many serious adverse reactions, in the general population, due to the millions of doses administered too hurriedly.

Dr Roberts gave her assurance to Dr Harper that the MOH would do this.  Interestingly the information/consent form sent home to parents includes the heading Cervical Cancer Vaccine.  Nowhere in the form are the first two facts mentioned.  The third has been given an understated mention, although it also states "the vaccine was shown to be safe during large clinical trials".

Parents trust the MOH and assume this vaccine would not be offered to their girls if there were any safety concerns.  My question is, what obligation will the MOH and ultimately the Government have, in the event of serious adverse reactions occuring in girls, when they have knowingly withheld credible information which is crucial in the decision making process, for parents deciding whether to vaccinate their daughter or not.