Time magazine named Merck's HPV Vaccine, Gardasil, one of the top medical/science stories of 2008. But it's the vaccine's side-effects and not its cancer prevention claim that got it there.

According to VAERS (the nonprofit Vaccine Awareness Event Reporting System) October 2008 statistics, there have been over 14,000 reports of serious side effects from Gardasil since it became available in 2006. My daughter is included in that statistic as she developed epilepsy since being vaccinated. Other young women suffer with daily seizures, excruciating joint pain, debilitating fatigue, difficulty breathing and some are so ill they can no longer attend school.

Yet Merck, the CDC and FDA staunchly stand by the vaccine, attribute side effects to other factors and maintain its safety.

To those who received Gardasil without incident, you are fortunate. To those who are contemplating it or are in the process of being vaccinated please take heed. Merck's "One Less" ad campaign created a sense of urgency around cervical cancer that simply does not exist. In fact, cervical cancer rates have been drastically reduced in the United States thanks to developments of annual pap tests.

My daughter, along with thousands of other young women, always enjoyed good health, received vaccines without incident on the schedule put forth by the medical community. When it came time for Gardasil, I didn't think twice. I wish I had. I hope you do.

Nina Kenney

Lake Villa