Now, in addition to low priced groceries and other goods, your local Wal-Mart will offer nurse kiosks ready to inject you or your child with a variety of vaccines. Wal-Mart is joining other stores, like Walgreens and CVS, in offering walk-through health clinics. According to recent reports, Wal-Mart will be the first to offer the controversial HPV vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix.
At Lucine, we have written a lot about Gardasil and the HPV vaccine questioning its safety. Gardasil: Miracle or Deadly Vaccine?, Is Gardasil Mandated in Your State?, What About the Pap Smear?. For a very heartbreaking story at the dangerous side effects of this story please read A Ruined Life from Gardasil. HPV is a very common virus that many experts believe the body can fight off by itself; with annual pap smear tests a doctor can easily catch and remove any abnormal cells before they become cancer.
The trend of selling direct-to-consumer vaccines, like that of selling over-the-counter medications is time-saving and logical on the one hand, but is troubling on the other, especially with vaccines and medications that have less than stellar safety profiles. Any product sold direct-to-consumer comes with the false presumption that it is entirely safe. Indeed, we have consumer protection agencies to ensure that this is the case with most products. Consumers often mistakenly assume that over-the-counter medications are safe because there is a consumer protection agency protecting their well-being, otherwise the product would not be on the market. Unlike a toy with a choking hazard or a product batch with a chemical contaminant, where the cause and effect are obvious and easily remedied with recall, the direct side-effects or adverse reactions of medications or vaccines are difficult to recognize and more difficult to prove, even under the most regulated of circumstances. When medications or vaccines are sold over-the-counter, it is nearly impossible.
The over-the-counter vaccines effectively remove any ability for physicians, researchers or patients identify side-effects. Selling over-the-counter vaccines is a boon to the pharmaceutical industry, however. With this single move the industry can sell more vaccines, the vaccines become safe in the eyes of the consumer while the industry removes the ability to prove otherwise, and a brilliant, albeit less than ethical, corporate strategy is pushed on consumers.
What do you think, should vaccines be available at the local pharmacy?