Saturday, April 8, 2017

G is for Gardasil--Is It Safe?

Gardasil was introduced to the public in 2006 to prevent HPV (a virus) infections of the cervix. While someone with HPV will most likely clear the infection naturally (about 90% in 2 years), those that don't might develop lesions, which could become cervical cancer. Even though death rates have declined over the years, cervical cancer can still be deadly.

Death Rate per 100,000 is:
blue states: 2.7 to 3.4
teal states: 2.1 to 2.7
light green states: 1.7 to 2.1
cream states: 1.2 to 1.7

How deadly is Garasil? 

Ever heard of VAERS? It's the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System for the US. Doctors are supposed to use it, but usually don't (so the numbers are probably underestimates). Anyone, including parents, can use it, but their reports might be seen as questionable or anecdotal (so the numbers are falsely inflated). Some estimate that the number of reports received by VAERS represent 10% or less of the actual number of adverse events (so the numbers are--GAH, I give up). 

Let's take a look at Gardasil's stats:


So 315 reported deaths, which means that meme above is out-of-date. Why isn't there a huge media outcry?

1. Conspiracy theory: Big Pharma controls the media, including television and newspapers.

Have you watched the nightly news in the past few decades? If so, think of the commercials. How many were for drugs? Lots. Do you subscribe to a magazine? Go look and see how many pages are dedicated to pharmaceutical advertisement. 

Image from here.

2. If this many people were dying from Gardasil, there would be lawsuits. Lots of lawsuits. Big Pharma would go bankrupt.

Guess again. In 1986, laws were passed so that the pharmaceutical companies could not be sued for vaccines that are part of the national CDC schedule. Instead, there is a government vaccine court for these cases and it is extremely difficult to win a case here. 

Since 1998 through June 1, 2015, HRSA (Health Resources and Service Administration) reports that 14,812 claims were filed in the VICP (National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program). The total paid out to vaccine victims was about $3.1 billion. While 4,121 were compensated,  9,904 have been dismissed. Further, the majority of vaccine injuries never make it to vaccine court. (Source)

Where did this 3 billion come from? Who pays for this? You do. There is a tax on every vaccine passed on to the consumer.

What about other countries?

Spain, France, India, and Japan have all filed criminal lawsuits against HPV vaccine manufacturers. (Source)

Unlike airbags, vaccine injuries are complex, especially the ones associated with Gardasil. Doctors may not be trained to recognize the signs (and that goes for the ones conducting the autopsies as well.) If you'd like to learn more about the Gardasil controversy, there is an ocean of information to read or watch from those for and against this vaccine. Try googling Gardasil deaths or Gardasil injuries and enter the rabbit-hole.

Image Source

 If you decide the risks of this vaccine don't outweigh the benefits, remember that pap smears are very effective in detecting cervical cancer early, this cancer is highly treatable, and no one has died from a pap smear. Even Merck recommends them on the Gardasil insert.

Do you think vaccines are safe? Have you ever researched a vaccine for yourself or your children?


  1. Here's a conspiracy theory I can get behind. I'm very skeptical of vaccines, and have no reason to believe big pharma has my best interest at heart. I did get my vaccinations when a youngster, and thankfully don't remember any adverse effects. If I had children today, I honestly don't know what I would do. Hard decision to make, IMO.

  2. Oh no, I feel like this could easily take us down the anti-vaxxer rabbit hole and that's one hole I'd like to stay well out of (or fill with dirt), thank you!

    26 Things To Hate About Writing: G is for Grammar

  3. While I am not sure this is a conspiracy, except that big pharma wants our money and profits. My disdain for them is almost as much as it is for the health insurance industry--but I am more than ready to do away with Obama Care and move to a national single payer system! I do yearly get a flu shot cause I am around a lot of sick people and don't want to get sick or to give someone else the germs.

  4. I'll just leave this here as a counterpoint:

    Thanks for sharing your ideas!

    Sharon E. Cathcart
    Award-winning Author of Fiction Featuring Atypical Characters

  5. You raised a very important topic. Again and again people are wondering whether to get vaccinated or not.

    As for me, I join the opinion that a big pharma companies want to earn more and more money and also for new vaccines for new viruses. But not all vaccines for different kinds of flu really work.

    Thank you very much for this great post and for sharing it!
    Have a nice weekend!

  6. It is interesting to know this side of Gardasil.

    I worked several years at an Evening High School. I had several students in those short years who were diagnosed with cervical cancer. These girls were 18. I know a doctor who gave an 18 year old a hysterectomy. Her uterus was coated with genital warts. HPV also causes anal, throat and mouth cancers. You cannot estimate the ease of a cancer cure.

    I see the vaccine as a health issue. With the statistics, I would want to know how many took the shot with out being harmed compared to those who suffered injury. There is potential injury with all medical procedures. I'm 60 and I hear every once in awhile about how dangerous my blood pressure medicine is. Without it, I may be in the graveyard.

    The association with having sex outside of marriage taints this vaccine for some. Abortion is illegal in Ireland. Contraception was only legalized in 1980.

    If I had a pre-teen, they would get the shot. I worked with a teacher who was a virgin when she married. Her husband constantly reinfected her with genital warts. The doctors treated both. She was nearing 40 when I knew her and they were childless.

    You have to be cautious with the anti-vaccine movement. It not only endangers exposure to serious disease to the non-vaccinated individual; it endangers the individual who cannot tolerate the vaccine due to the increase in likelihood of the disease.

    I had a family member with polio. You would hear cars speed up as they passed the house because they were so afraid of the disease. I have a sister who has poor eyesight and schizophrenia. My mother contracted measles during her pregnancy with her.

    Get your children vaccinated.

    1. Thank you for this thoughtful reply. I welcome your opinions on this topic. However, after studying the Gardasil vaccine for several years, I decided not have my daughter get it. The stories of those who were injured and died after taking this vaccine were also poignant.

    2. You have to go with your gut. My mother decided not to take this medication her obgyn recommended when she was pregnant with me in 1956. She didn't feel comfortable. It was thalidomide which caused terrible birth defects.

  7. I'm with you on Gardasil. I did not allow it for my daughter.


  8. I was born in the 50's. Vaccines saved most of us from Polio and other scary diseases. I grew up thinking, I was covered - due to all the boosters we had received as children. It was only until I had my babies. One of them had bad allergies and had to get the "baby shots" 1/2 dose and come back the next week for another. It worked. Then I started hearing about the ills of vaccines and autism. I don't know what to believe. My kids generation - it seems I didn't know anybody with children who had autism. Now days, it seems like 1 in 3.

    I do get a annual flu shot.

    As for BIG PHARMA - It's a business to make a profit. Nothing wrong with that, until they start hiding important issues about their product just for financial gain.

    1. I agree. I might revisit this topic for the letter V since the movie Vaxxed covers the vaccine/autism debate from an interesting angle.

  9. Believe me, we get a LOT of conspiracy theories here about vaccination! The one about autism comes at the top. It simply isn't true. The supposed report was disproved long ago. Unfortunately we have quite a few ignorant politicians here for whom "science" and "evidence" are dirty words, some of whom belong to micro-parties which only got in because of a strange thing here called a double-dissolution election which allows people with very few votes to get in. And the government has to do deals with them to get other stuff through the Senate.

    They're currently trying to wrestle through something called "no jab no play" which keeps out of childcare centres kids who haven't been vaccinated, because they might infect younger children who are too young for vaccination. And this hoary old chestnut about the autism comes through.

    But if Big Pharma is behind some of this, they won't be the only ones. Big Tobacco is definitely behind keeping the information about the harm of smoking from us way back when they knew and we didn't. And when my country went to plain packaging of cigarettes they first protested that it wouldn't help, then tried to sue anyway.

    And then there were the frozen vegetable companies who paid for a report saying frozen veggies were better for you than fresh ones because they were frozen when fresh... My mother believed that one, still believes it no matter how many times I tell her it was paid for by the businesses!

    1. That autism/vaccine conspiracy is a juicy one. I might tackle it later this month.

      I read an interesting statistic that most scientific studies (around 80%) have serious flaws. So the words, "studies show" are often meaningless.

  10. Pro vaccine, baby, all the way. I don't even want to discuss it or I'll become inhuman.

  11. Do not think this vaccine is necessary and may be harmful.

    Finding Eliza

  12. Yes I researched vaccines when my first child was born and even rang up the top peadiatric doctor at the hospital to find out if his children had had the ones being proposed - these are not easy decisions to make but obviously if your child contracts the disease being vaccinated against the effects can be devastating too. My children were given the normal vaccinations of the day and they have both been healthy individuals but each parent has to make their own decision on such matters and it is not an easy one to make.
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

  13. I think vaccines are a lot safer than letting diseases that were completely controlled come back. The anti-vac movement is really dangerous. That said, I'm not sure whether Gardasil is safe or not. I'd have to do a lot more research to have an informed opinion.

    One of the big problems with HPV is it can stay in a person's body for years. While the infected may not have symptoms, he or she can pass it on, and the symptoms can include genital warts, etc. It can get quite nasty.

  14. I was a bit worried this was turning into an anti-vaxxer post, but that doesn't seem to be the case (I think).

    That being said, it can be dangerous to claim that every single vaccine or medicine is completely safe. I don't really think there is a 'Big Pharma' conspiracy, but pharmaceutical companies (or any companies, really) are more concerned with the net benefit of their product. As long as it outweighs the harm, they'll go ahead with it, and any lives lost as a result just become statistics.

  15. I did research vaccines for my baby at the time, I remember the autism controversy. The baby did get all recommended shots. I do have a close friend who contracted polio as a child and was disabled, so I am by and large pro-vaccine, unless there is conclusive evidence showing risks outweigh benefits. Didn't know about Gardasil, this was enlightening!

    I am not a believer of conspiracy theories, but I am no fan of Big Phrama either, they're not in it for love of humanity, are they?


  16. I grew up with kids who had polio. The vaccine was like a dream come true. My sons all received their vaccinations and so did my grandson. I truly believe that the benefits far outweigh the risks associated with various diseases. I have experienced an abnormal pap smear and had to have surgery. I would have gotten the vaccine if it had been available years ago.

  17. Totally agree with you, Tamara. We do our research when it comes to vaccines. While some may be worthwhile (Denise mentions polio), others not so much. It's important to be an informed consumer and not just trust big government or pharmaceutical companies to have your best interests in mind. Our family stopped getting the flu vaccine years ago, and we never get the flu. Also, did NOT give our daughter the HPV vaccine. Like you said, there are a lot of risks, Pap smears are effective at detecting cervical cancer and early detection equals highly treatable. You need to know what ingredients are in these vaccines and what the potential side-effects are before taking any of them.

    American drug commercials floor me - you have all these positive "ordinary" people talking about how the drug benefited them and how amazing it is, followed by all of these warnings about risks and potential deadly/harmful side-effects. Wow.

  18. You've brought up something that deserves some open and truthful discussion.

  19. I remember when this vaccine came out and there was some controversy over it, but then it went quiet. It wouldn't surprise me if it was swept under the rug.

  20. If Trump likes to drain swamps I'd love to see him drain Big Pharma, probably the biggest swamp of all.

  21. Speaking from a country that doesn't have pharma advertising to its citizens, but does have a vaccine programme - the benefits far outweigh the risks.
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries

  22. With vaccines I can never be sure whether they are meant to benefit us or the pharma companies.

    Harkla and Hoppipolla: Exotic Words with no English Equivalent

  23. I had not heard this about Gardasil. I do agree that big pharma is a problem. But, I'm generally for vaccinations.

  24. I'm very involved in the pro-science community on social media, as a lay advocate for vaccination. It's really frightening to see the breakdown in herd immunity and the re-emergence of diseases which were all but vanquished, like measles, mumps, and whooping cough. There's so much hysteria against Gardasil, though all the peer-reviewed evidence proves it's safe. Unfortunately, I was too old when it came out.

    One of my Facebook friends wrote this scholarly blog post debunking the anti-Gardasil hysteria, with links to a bunch of different sources:

  25. Aw, this isn't a "fun" conspiracy at all, boo. I'm with all the other pro-vaxxers; the anti-vaxxer movement is dangerous, but others made the point already, so I'll just go read the JFK post now (sorry I'm a bit behind!).
    Jamie Lyn Weigt | Writing Dragons Blog | AtoZ 2017 - Dragons in Our Fandoms

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