Seventy-five percent of all the called up Dutch teens offered free cervical cancer inoculations showed up Monday, a health ministry official said. Due to widespread opposition, there had been claims that the programme might face a large boycott.
The first wave of 13,000 girls aged 13 to 16 were invited to the first round of the controversial jabs Monday at eighteen vaccination sites countrywide - and almost 10,000 girls showed up, the ministry said.
This is part of a campaign in the United States and Europe for teen girls -- the entire next child-bearing population in these countries -- to get inoculated against cervical cancer caused by the sexually-transmitted viral infeciton HPV. see It is claimed by the World Health Organisation that one in every four women worldwide have STD linked to cervical cancer.
In the Netherlands, authorities say for the vaccine to be effective, the presently targeted group of a total of 360,000 girls from the age of 13 will have to get two shots of the free vaccine before the start of the summer vacation from July, said a spokesman of the health ministry (GGD).They will have to now take these jabs regularly throughout the rest of their lives to prevent cervical cancer.
And from September, all the Dutch girls who turn 12 years after that month also will receive calls to inoculated against cervical cancer. see
The Dutch health ministry wants to inoculate the entire next child-bearing age of 600,000 girls this year.
The programme is voluntary.
There is opposition to the programme however, mainly amongst the 'alternative medicine' community.
Many parents and girls remain critical of the free vaccination programme - with many fearing that these jabs are still very experimental, that the long-term effects have not been researched, that these could be dangerous and that their girls could fall ill or even die from them.see
Critics claim that children abroad have even died after such inoculations and fallen seriously ill. - and also fear that the shots could lead to infertility when the girls reach adulthood.
The girls themselves also are critical, and have opened a weblog where they can debate the issue and vote for it. The sexually-transmitted virus inoculated also causes oral cancer in men, however a similar inoculation programme is not being planned for Dutch male youths.
Journalist campaigns actively against shots
The most critical of the programme is Dutch 'alternative medicine' research journalist and life-coach Désirée L. Röver, who wrote a critical book about the HPV-vaccine, planned for publication in May 2009. She urges girls on her weekly 'life-coaching' radio programme and on various internet sites not to get the vaccine, which also require regular booster shots.
She writes on the alternative website Argus Eye that there have been 'serious complications after a similar vaccination programme in the USA, the UK (with Cervaris) and Spain (with Gardasil).'
Spain, she writes, had taken 76.000 doses Gardasil off the shelves after two girls in Valencia ended up in the intensive care unit of a Valencia hospital with complications.
And in the United States, she claims that the Food and Drug Administration reported one death a month since the introduction of the vaccine Gardasil from June 2006, debilitating Guillain-Barré disease; spontaneous abortions and similar complications.
However the Dutch health ministry denies these claims fervently, and insists on vaccinating the country's entire next generation of young girls, claiming that it is 'perfectly safe' - and is putting considerable peer-group pressure on GPs and parents to send their girls for the voluntarily shots.
The Dutch health ministry did admit that 'there have not yet been any long-term research programmes into the efficacy of the injection. This is impossible,' they point out, 'because the vaccine has only been developed just recently." However, they deny claims by parents and Röver that any girls have ever died of the vaccination.
Sexual contact and HPV
Cancer of the womb is caused mainly after females contract the human papillomavirus or HPV through sexual contact. There are hundreds of variants of this virus, but these do not all cause cancer.
This inoculation, it is being claimed by medical experts, will protect females from two varieties of HPV, which together cause 70% of all the cervical cancer cases identified in the country. The infection transfer cannot be prevented by condom use because it is also excreted through skin contact, the ministry points out.
Opponents also point out that of the 400 cases diagnosed annually in the Netherlands, 300 are also cured.