If you are considering vaccinating your daughter with the increasingly popular Merck vaccine Gardasil, designed to protect against cervical cancer by preventing the sexually transmitted virus HPV, consider the following first:
Merck’s marketing for this vaccine has been one of the most aggressive in pharmaceutical marketing history, targeting not only the consumer population but doctors, researchers and even politicians. For the overwhelming success of its Gardasil campaign, Merck took home all of the 2008 Pharmaceutical Advertising and Marketing Excellence awards, and Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine named Gardasil its Brand of the Year.
The FDA was suspiciously eager to approve and recommend Gardasil. Unlike other vaccines, which usually take three years to be FDA-approved after the conclusion of clinical testing, Gardasil sped through the system in a mere six months. With similar alacrity, only a few weeks after FDA approval, the CDC recommended Gardasil for universal use among girls. Typically, it takes vaccines from 5 to 10 years to achieve this kind of universal status.
Typically, the grace period between the time a vaccine enters the market and the time it is universally adopted allows for adverse reactions, side-effects and other problems to be found before they have an impact on a huge population. Gardasil has not had this grace period. As of June 1, 2009, 25 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed in the United States. As of this date, there have also been 14,072 official reports of adverse events occurring after Gardasil vaccination in the United States. Ninety three percent were not serious, and ranged from arm pain to fainting, but seven percent were extremely serious, and included paralysis, blood clots, and more than 40 deaths (26 of which have been confirmed).
The worst reactions, as well as any and all long-term complications, may be still to come. Because the duration of Gardasil clinical trials was only five years, it is also not clear how long the vaccine offers protection against some strains of HPV. (It only offers 70% protection against HPV at full strength to begin with.) Some of Merck’s own clinical trials suggested that HPV protection wears off in some girls as early as three years after receiving Gardasil…which will probably translate into the need for girls and women to get booster shots every few years, ad infinitum.
The available information on this vaccine’s adverse effects strongly suggests that the FDA and CDC need to curb this frightening Gardasil free-for-all and re-evaluate its safety, both in the short term and in the long term.
Readers, if you have had any personal experiences with Gardasil’s negative effects, please share them here! People have to know about this vaccine’s risks before exposing their children to it.