Ian Frazer, the discoverer, is doing a bit of a whirlwind tour today for the cameras – vaccinating some girls and young women in both Brisbane and Sydney on the first day that Gardasil is approved for use in Australia.
As yet there’s no government subsidy for the vaccine (which protects against the virus that causes the main form of cervical cancer), so the full course of three shots costs over A$400. There’s nonetheless no shortage of takers, and a growing number of men interested in the vaccination as well so they can be confident of not infecting their partners.
My tigling is not quite 12, so I’m hoping that in the next few years the government will subsidise the shots to make them more affordable. I’m fortunate that I can afford to have her vaccinated even without the subsidy (and my son too), but surely on a purely pragmatic long term view a subsidised vaccine makes economic sense – it must cost much more than that to treat cases of cervical cancer through Medicare.
There’s still some concern in some socially conservative circles that inoculating their daughters against a cancer that happens to be sexually transmitted is going to send “the wrong message” about premarital sex to teens. It’s less of an issue here in Australia compared to the States (or Scotland), but here’s a surprisingly good Fox News article about how parents might talk with their daughters about the vaccine.
In more good cancer vaccine news, an FDA approval application has been made for a therapeutic cancer vaccine (Gardasil is preventative only) to combat cases of prostate cancer in men, and a vaccine against lung cancer is moving on to large scale trials. Both these vaccines are likely to have their best effect in post-tumour-removal patients, hoping to stave off relapses by destroying any cancer cells remaining after surgery and chemo/radiotherapy.