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Gardasil: The Controversy Continues

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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 @ www.ambrotosphotography.com  Gardasil_vaccine_and_box.jpg: Jan Christian @ www.ambrotosphotography.com derivative work: Photohound [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0), CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Wal-Mart to Offer HPV Vaccine

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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 Hormones MatterTM, 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?

Hormones MatterTM 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. 

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Is Gardasil Mandated in Your State?

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Last week I reported on the controversy of the Gardasil Vaccine produced by Merck (it is important to note that GlaxoSmithKline also makes an HPV vaccine called Cervarix). Many women left comments which confirmed my statements and research with personal stories of their once healthy daughters who are now sick and disabled from this vaccine. This week I will look at which states are mandating that school children get the vaccine and one state that passed legislation for the vaccine to be given to children as young as 12 years old without parental consent.

As I stated in my op-ed piece on the Affordable Health Care Act, I am a libertarian. One of my main concerns about the government controlling our health care is mandated vaccines. To those who think that this could never happen, the simple fact is it’s already happening in our schools and in our military. While I’m a proud Marine, I’m ashamed of the fact that the government has been known to conduct ethically questionable experiments on our troops. In my opinion, vaccines are one of those experiments and rather than do they protect the patient, they ask will the people blindly take them?

While in the Marine Corps, I was vaccinated against every possible disease that there is a vaccine for not once, but twice, sometimes even three times (somehow my shot records never made it to my medical records, which I understand is common in the service). This includes the HPV vaccine, Gardasil. When I say it was mandated, I do in fact mean that I was forced to get these vaccines. Per the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) my body was property of the US Government when I was in the service. You probably think I’m kidding; I’m not. During safety briefs before summer holiday weekends we were told to wear sunscreen (check out the dangers of sunscreen here) because if we got a sunburn while off-duty we could be charged with destruction to government property. Now, that was a little extreme and I don’t know anyone who was actually charged over a sunburn (although it wouldn’t surprise me), it was still true – we were government property. I tried to avoid the Smallpox vaccine and successfully did until we were at the airport terminal boarding the plane for Iraq, I was informed by our unit’s corpsman administering it, “If you don’t get this shot you can’t deploy.”

I sarcastically replied, “Okay,” only to turn around and see the Executive Officer (XO) standing behind me.

Not amused by my sarcasm, he said, “If you don’t get the shot I will charge you with disobeying orders Lieutenant.” He was dead serious.

Thankfully, I have not had any major complications (although the more research that I do, I think I have some ongoing side effects from the Gardasil vaccine).

State Mandates

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) school vaccine requirements are determined by individual states, a right which might be revoked now that states are mandated to enforce individuals to purchase insurance per the Federal government.

In 2006, the Michigan Senate was the first to introduce legislation (S.B.1416) requiring girls entering sixth grade to have the vaccine. The bill was not enacted. According to NCSL, “Since 2006, legislators in at least 41 states and D.C. have introduced legislation to require the vaccine, fund or educate the public about the HPV Vaccine and at least 21 states have enacted legislation, including Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.”

In February 2007, Texas Governor bypassed state legislation and made an executive order that all females going into the sixth grade had to get vaccinated with Gardasil. In May 2007, state legislators introduced and passed the bill H.B. 1098 to override the executive order. 

The Virginia legislature also passed a school vaccine requirement for Gardasil in 2007. To see what legislation related to the HPV vaccines and information has been introduced to your state, see NCSL’s chart here.

No Parental Consent Necessary

Can it get worse than mandating parents to give their kids a vaccine that causes severe side effects and does nothing more than an annual pap can do to prevent cervical cancer? Of course it can. On January 1, 2012, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill AB 499 into law. It states:

“Existing law authorizes a minor who is 12 years of age or older to consent to medical care related to the diagnosis or treatment of an infectious, contagious, or communicable disease if it is related to a sexually transmitted disease. This bill would additionally authorize a minor who is 12 years of age or older to consent to medical care related to the prevention of a sexually transmitted disease.  Time-critical preventive services for sexually transmitted diseases include the hepatitis B vaccine, post-exposure prophylactic (PEP) HIV medication (which must be administered within 72 hours of exposure), and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which, if given prior to exposure, may significantly reduce the risk of certain cancers.”

How did we get here?

This is the easy part. Look at who is benefiting the most -follow the money. In this case, the makers of the vaccines are obviously going to benefit if their product is mandated by use of all children the age of 12-26 years old. Similar to when 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.

The cost of one shot is $120 and the vaccine is a series of three given over the course of a year. That’s $360 for every girl and boy who gets the vaccine. In most states insurance is mandated to cover this vaccine and there are numerous state and federal programs for those who do not have insurance. With all the side effects and even deaths from this shot, why wouldn’t politicians put those tax dollars to use providing un/under-insured women access to pap smears, a screening test that can catch HPV before it develops into cancer far enough in advance that fairly simple steps can be taken to stop cancer before it even develops? Why, because Merck and GlaxoKlineSmith can’t profit from preventing cancer that way. And how much has Merck made from the Gardasil vaccine? According to CNN Money, Gardasil grossed over $1.1 billion in the first nine months on the market. Unfortunately for Merck, the initial sales momentum has flattened out and is declining. The American public are obviously not buying this vaccine, so Merck and others are going to legislators and to have it mandated instead.

What can you do?

As I always say, GET INVOLVED. Get educated. Complacency, apathy and ignorance are how we got to this point (and Citizens United).  Be wary of a bill that puts a private company’s profits above the safety and well-being of the individual, especially one that involves the health of your child. It is incumbent upon all of us to assess the safety and risks of any medication or vaccine before taking it.

Hormones MatterTM 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. 

Further Reading:
Gardasil: Miracle or Deadly Vaccine?
What about the Pap?

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