Reports of adverse reactions to the new HPV vaccine are escalating. One particularly heart-wrenching example is the story of an active 12-year-old little girl named Brittany who recently lost all feeling in her leg and collapsed two weeks after receiving the Gardasil vaccine. Although she once had dreams of earning an athletic scholarship, she now struggles to hobble around each day with the aid of braces and a walker, First Coast News reports
. According to the article, she has been diagnosed with Acute Demyelinating Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), a condition characterized by inflammation of the brain and associated with the vaccination.
Like many other parents, this girl's mother had no idea that this kind of reaction to the vaccine was possible and never would've allowed her daughter to receive it had she been made aware of this. To add insult to injury, people who are injured by the vaccine cannot even sue Merck, the maker of the Gardasil vaccine, because the vaccine is part of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund. Unfortunately, the only recourse for those injured by this vaccine is to file a claim with the government. Translation: compensation of the victims becomes the responsibility of taxpayers.
While the FDA may claim that adverse reactions to this vaccine are rare, a review of the U.S.'s Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) data shows that thousands and thousands of adverse reactions have been reported
in the United States alone. Girls from other countries have been injured by this vaccine, as well. Hundreds of Australian girls have experienced side effects like paralysis, dizzy spells and seizures, but Australia's Department of Health and Ageing won't release
any of the details. According to LifeSiteNews
, The European Medicines Agency reports
that there were two more women who died not long after they received the vaccine, one in Austria and one in Germany. The Financial Times reports
that there have been eleven deaths and a wide array of other adverse reactions, including Bells Palsy, Guillan-Barre syndrome, seizures, blood clotting, heart problems, and even miscarriages and fetal abnormalities amongst pregnant women who received the vaccine.
Many doctors are not recommending this vaccine, because in addition to the serious adverse reactions and deaths that have been reported, they have concerns about the vaccine's long-term safety and efficacy. In her well-written book called The Parents' Concise Guide to Childhood Vaccinations
, Dr. Lauren Feder notes that the pain that many girls experience after the shot is probably due to the aluminum adjuvants in the vaccine. She also cautions that the vaccine contains polysorbate 80, a substance linked to infertility in mice. After some deliberation, it was her opinion that the vaccine had more risks than benefits.
One vaccine researcher, Diane M. Harper, a physician and someone who has spent twenty years on the development of the HPV vaccine, has publicly stated through a KPC News report
that giving this vaccine to young girls is a "great big public health experiment," as this vaccine's safety and efficacy for young girls is unknown. She notes that HPV is a skin infection and can be spread in ways other than sex, and it's quite possible that tiny girls have already been exposed to the strains of HPV covered by the vaccine which would render the vaccine ineffective. She thinks the vaccine should only be offered to women 18 and older, and only if they have first tested negative for the strains of HPV covered by the vaccine. Of course, testing tiny girls with a vaginal swab to see if they've already been exposed would be wholly inappropriate. Harper has many other concerns, as outlined in the news report, but she is having trouble getting her views heard through mainstream media. Another concern voiced by Harper and many other doctors is that even if someone gets the HPV vaccine, regular pap smears are still needed, as the vaccine doesn't protect against all strains of HPV.
The reason many doctors like this vaccine is because HPV can cause cervical cancer. According to the CDC
, certain types of HPV can cause genital warts, and certain types of HPV can cause cervical and other cancers () . The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are considered low-risk and are not the same as the types that cause cancer. Again, genital warts will not turn into cancer. However, the CDC reports that in 90% of all cases of HPV, including both the wart-causing and the cancer-causing varieties, the body's immune system will clear the infection naturally within two years. In fact, the CDC maintains that most people who contract HPV will not have any symptoms at all.
But just how common is cervical cancer in the United States? To answer this question, it is useful to look at some statistics that Kaiser has posted on its website
concerning the incidence of cervical cancer in the United States. The statistics are available by state and by ethnicity. For example, in the state of Maryland, 9.3 out of every 100,000 women contracted cervical cancer in 2003. Without considering any of the personal risk factors (like cervical cancer in the family), the general risk for someone living in Maryland would be 9.3/100000 or .0093% chance of contracting this disease. It is important to note that many people have pre-cancerous lesions that are treated by their doctors and that data is not reflected here. However, generally speaking, assuming that a woman gets regular pap smears, the risk for developing cervical cancer seems relatively small. Using the state of Maryland as an example again, according to the statistics provided by Kaiser, only 2.5 out of every 100,000 women or .0025% actually died from cervical cancer in the state of Maryland in 2004.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports
that 80% of all cervical cancer deaths happen in developing countries. The remaining deaths from cervical cancer are divided amongst all of the other developed nations. However, there is currently a big push in the United States for girls to have this vaccine. According to CorpWatch.org
, Merck even lobbied to make the vaccine mandatory. Given that each course of the vaccine would cost hundreds of dollars, Merck would stand to make billions if this vaccine were required for all young girls. After all of Merck's problems with its Vioxx drug that was taken off the market, this vaccine would certainly allow Merck to recoup its losses.
For all of these reasons and many more, parents naturally have grave concerns about this vaccine. Even girls who receive the HPV vaccine still need regular pap smears, because 30% of cervical cancers won't be prevented by this vaccine (and that's assuming the vaccine works all the time for the other types). Numerous doctors have also pointed out that just because a vaccine may seem to prevent precursor lesions from developing doesn't mean it will prevent cervical cancer - - this, along with many other long-term variables concerning the vaccine, won't be known for many years.
Given all of the adverse reactions associated with this vaccine and even the possibility of death, one has to question if young girls should be given a vaccine whose long-term effects are unknown in a country where women have good access to medical care and are able to get regular pap smears. This whole vaccine mentality is eerily reminiscent of the story told in Stravinsky's Rite of Spring
, which recounts the tale of a young maiden being sacrificed in pagan Russia as an offering to the gods in order to have abundant crops. Is the suffering and possible death of some girls for the purpose of "herd immunity" really worth it? Go ask Brittany.
About the author
Joanne Waldron is a computer scientist with a passion for writing and sharing health-related news and information with others. She runs the Naked Wellness: The Gentle Health Revolution forum, which is devoted to achieving radiant health, well-being, and longevity.