Post Article Largely Ignores Health Problems with Gardasil Vaccine

A major pharmaceutical company lobbies to require that children be gardasilimagegiven a vaccine. Parents should be made aware of any problems resulting from the vaccine, right? Not according to a recent Washington Post article.

Rob Stein’s March 26 article about the Gardasil vaccine debate failed to include any references to the several documented cases of health problems and even death that resulted from the vaccinations. His two-page article highlighted the tone of the Gardasil debate, reflecting the impact on young girls’ sex lives and the potential use for a male vaccine. But Stein barely touched on the concerns of critics that the vaccine actually caused health issues for young women.

The Gardasil vaccine is a series of three shots offered to young women to significantly lower their risk of contracting the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer. Stein noted that “Critics worried that vaccinating children would send a subtle signal that their parents assumed they would become sexually active and that it would give youngsters a false sense of security.” True enough, but critics are also worried that this miracle vaccine may come with its own set of problems.

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is one of those critics. According to the website NVIC is “the oldest and largest consumer organization advocating the institution of vaccine safety and informed consent protections in the mass vaccination system…” The mission of the NVIC is to prevent vaccine injuries and one of its targets is the Gardasil vaccine.

According to a June 26, 2007 NVIC press release, “Nearly 90 percent of all Gardasil recipients and 85 percent of aluminum placebo recipients reported one or more adverse events within 15 days of vaccination, particularly at the injection site. Pain and swelling at injection site and fever occurred in approximately 83 percent of Gardasil and 73 percent of aluminum placebo recipients. About 60 percent of those who got Gardasil or the aluminum placebo had systemic adverse events including headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, myalgia. Gardasil recipients had more serious adverse events such as headache, gastroenteritis, appendicitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, asthma, bronchospasm and arthritis.” The information in the press release was obtained from the vaccine’s maker, Merck, and the Food and Drug Administration, and it prompted NVIC to advise against recommending the “universal use of Merck’s Gardasil vaccine in all pre-adolescent girls” to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

A February 2009 NVIC report noted that there are at least 29 known cases in which young patients died after receiving the Gardasil vaccine,. “A 21-year old Maryland artist, athlete and honor roll college student died suddenly without explanation in June 2008 after her third Gardasil shot,” the article reported. “She is one of the 29 Gardasil death reports in VAERS.” VAERS is the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System.

Stein did note concerns that the vaccine isn’t totally safe. Buried at the end of the article was this: “Federal health officials, Merck and others say they are confident that the vaccine is safe. But some experts said they are concerned that there is insufficient evidence about how long Gardasil's protection will last, whether serious side effects will emerge and whether the relatively modest benefits for boys are worth even the small risks associated with any vaccine.”

Death is hardly a small risk, and NVIC’s very serious concerns should have been prominently featured in an article about the Gardasil controversy.  

Photo via University of Wisconsin, Stout.