Gardasil: The Controversy Continues

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

You have an 11 year old son or daughter. You go to the doctor for a physical or broken bone and he/she recommends a shot for the human papillomavirus or HPV. The name alone sounds horrifying, but then they tell you that this virus causes genital warts and [gasp] cervical cancer. You immediately want to surrender to whatever it is that the doctor is suggesting in order to protect your child. While HPV is the virus that causes these two medical problems, they leave out the fact that there have been many serious side effects, including death, linked to the vaccine. Here are some more interesting facts that I previously reported in Gardasil, Miracle or Deadly Virus?:

  • Researchers have identified 100 different strands of the virus, the Gardasil vaccine only protects against 4.
  • Sexually active individuals have an 80-85% chance of being infected with one of the identified 100 strands of the virus in their lifetime.
  • A healthy body can fight off the infection 80% of the time.
  • With early detection, thanks to the annual pap smear test, cervical cancer can be detected and successfully treated. In 2008, the CDC reported that 12,410 women in the US were diagnosed with cervical cancer. Only 4,008 women in the US died from cervical cancer.

We all want the best for our children. Most parents here the words cancer, genital warts and immediately jump to the conclusion that this vaccine was approved so it must be safe. However, according to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) on the Center for Disease Control (CDC), where parents and patients can report adverse effects of any vaccine, “over 25 million doses of Gardasil and there was an average of 53.9 VAERS reports per 100,000 vaccine doses. Of these, 40 percent occurred on the day of vaccination, and 6.2 percent were serious, including 32 reports of death.” The ongoing controversy of how much of these reported side effects are mere coincidence or a direct correlation can’t be measured on the self-reporting site, but consider this:

As a parent or young adult does the risk of a 6.2 percent chance of a serious side effect to protect your child or yourself from 4 out of 100 strands of a virus that the body can fight 80 percent of the time worth it? What’s more, for the 20 percent of patients that will not be able to fight it off on their own, it is usually caught during an annual pap smear test and treated before causing any major threat to the individual’s health.

Why the controversy? Mainstream media touts that the benefits outweigh the good, while alternative news sites and blogs tell of the horrific side effects that ruined or took or ruined their daughters’ lives (and now it is recommended for boys as a preventative measure as they carry the virus). How do you decide what is best? The important thing to remember is that it is your decision. Look into all the research and decide the risk factors of both getting it and not getting it. Here are some important things to look into as you investigate.

Follow The Money

The US is one of the few countries that allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise on television. The broadcasting company that is paid by advertising revenues is probably not going to disapprove of a product that one of their advertising clients is selling in between news segments. Furthermore, Merck paid doctors to promote the vaccine. Health Impact News Daily estimates that Merck legally paid approximately $2,313,942.81 to doctors to promote Gardasil. How can we trust the doctors on the news to be trustworthy and not one of Merck’s paid advertisers? Talk to doctors you trust and ask them if they were paid to promote the vaccine. Get a second opinion, or even a third.

Furthermore, the following medical associations that promote the vaccine also received funds from the vaccine makers according to the Journal of the American Medical Association:

  • The American College Health Association
  • The American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology
  • The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists

Why Is It A Law?

Some states tried to mandate the vaccine as a law. Personally, I don’t believe any vaccines should be mandated by law, but especially one that is under as much scrutiny as Gardasil. Taking a closer look at the politicians who did, let’s again follow the money trail. Texas Governor Perry passed the law to mandate the HPV shot shortly after Merck contributed $6000 dollars to his campaign (amongst other ties to Merck); in California, Merck donated $39, 500 to legislators voting yea on AB 499 according to Cal Watch Dog. For more information on whether or not it is mandated in your state, please read Is Gardasil Mandated in Your State? for more information. You can get exemptions forms for mandated vaccines here.

The Billion Dollar Question – Does It Work?

In 2011, Dr. Diane Harper, lead developer of the Gardasil vaccine came out in a press release stating,

“The best way to prevent cervical cancer is with routine Pap screening starting at age 21 years. Vaccination cannot prevent as many cervical cancers as can Pap screening. Pap screening with vaccination does NOT lower your chances of cervical cancer – Pap screening and vaccination lowers your chances of an abnormal Pap test. Gardasil® is associated with GBS [Guillian-Barre Syndrome] that has resulted in deaths. Pap screening using a speculum and taking cells from the cervix is not a procedure that results in death. Gardasil® can be offered along with Cervarix® as an option to prevent abnormal Pap test results in those women who can make an informed decision about how much they value this benefit compared to the rare risk of GBS. If a woman has no access to Pap screening, receiving HPV vaccines may help reduce cervical cancer IF the vaccines last long enough. At this time, Gardasil® is proven to last for at least 5 years, and Cervarix® for at least 8.5 years. Health policy analyses show that there will be no reduction in cervical cancer unless the vaccine lasts at least 15 years.”

Not good press for either Merck or GlaxoKlineSmith, the maker of the HPV vaccine Cervarix. Currently, there are not booster shots of either vaccine, and the shot is highly recommended for children 9-12 because they are less likely to already have been exposed to the virus. Doing a little math, that means the vaccine will wear off around the ages of 14-20.5 (depending on which brand was administered) very likely prior to sexual activity! What’s worse is that prior to approval Merck informed the FDA that  if a person has already been exposed to HPV 16 or 18 prior to injection, then Gardasil increases the risk of precancerous lesions, or worse, by 44.6 percent.

The War Wages On

Conventional media and Merck sponsored doctors continue to promote this vaccine, while individuals and alternative news sites continue to warn the public against it. For mothers like Tracy Andrews, the war will never end. Her daughter is one of the unfortunate victims of the Gardasil shot who is permanently disabled because of it. Tracy and her daughter, Alexis, passionately advocate to parents and young adults not to get this vaccine. Together, they also fight to have this vaccine banned. Their story was featured on Lucine and they will also be featured in the upcoming documentary “One More Girl.” This documentary by ThinkExist Productions, plays on Gardasil’s advertising slogan “One less.” The documentary title means “one more girl affected by Gardasil,” while the Gardasil campaign means “one less person affected by HPV.”  The documentary is scheduled to be released in the spring 2013. A preview can be viewed here.

To Vaccinate Or Not To Vaccinate, That Is The Question

In the end, you should discuss the pros and cons with your medical professional and decide for yourself and your family what is best. Arm yourself with as much information as you can so you won’t be intimidated by scary words like “cancer” and “genital warts” and can make an informed decision.

Hormones Matter is conducting research on the side effects and adverse events associated with Gardasil and its counterpart Cervarix. If you or your daughter has had either HPV vaccine, please take this important survey. The Gardasil Cervarix HPV Vaccine Survey. 


By Jan Christian @  Gardasil_vaccine_and_box.jpg: Jan Christian @ derivative work: Photohound [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (, CC-BY-SA-2.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Lisbeth Prifogle is a freelance writer, Marine officer, and globetrotter currently in San Diego, CA. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles and a BA from DePauw University. Lisbeth spent six months in Iraq and is working on a memoir about her experiences. She keeps a blog titled The Next Bold Move and her work can be found in the 11th issue of Poem Memoir Story, The Splinter Generation, and In the Know Travel. Lisbeth has had problems balancing hormones since she was a teenager and is constantly researching and exploring natural remedies including diet, exercise, and alternative medicines.


  1. I am no medical expert and all these figures and date confuse me, all I want to know is, is this thing really safe for us human. If what they say is true that it can cause this and that, then why is it prescribed by medical experts?

    • This vaccine is worth billions of dollars to the drug company, that is the only reason they make it. It isn’t safe and it isn’t necessary. A few months before the FDA approved it, an article in the business section of the Sacramento Bee stated all the benefits of it that you’ve read before by researchers. Then the last paragraph said, I quote — The researchers not paid by Merch Pharmaceutical questioned the efficacy of the drug and because of the two deaths during the trial period and the cases (don’t remember if two, three) of a rare and especially dangerous form of cervical cancer which may have been caused by the drug, in addition to some other serious side effects, recommended not approving the drug. I was paraphrasing of course, except for the first sentence about the researchers. I was so amazed by that article, I became at that time very aware of the vaccine controversy and what it was about.

  2. Maybe whoever wrote this should get the figures right, its not 6.2% will have a serious adverse reaction its 6.2% of the 53.9 out of 100,000 cases which is 3.3 people out of 100,000 not 6.2% as you stated which is 6200 out of 100,000 so don’t comment if you don’t know what you are reading. Also the four types it protects against are the ones that cause the cancer so get your facts straight.

  3. You are incorrect to state that the risk of serious side effect is 6.2%. This is the % of serious reports to the VAERS system not the entire group who received the vaccine. According to your info the actual risk of a serious side effect is .000033418.

    Parents/individual certainly should make an informed choice – I hope that you will not contribute to the problem by continuing to publish false info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Story

100 Toxic Chemicals Found in Pregnant Women

Next Story

Gardasil and Thyroid Cancer: A Personal Account

Latest from Family Health