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Guarding Against Gardasil

I have a 13-year-old girl in my house.  And she won’t be getting the Gardasil shot.

No, I’m not one of those parents who believes that the HPV shot will encourage sexual behavior.  The boredom and pressures of being a teen will take care of that, thank you very much.

Friday, CBS Evening News featured a story on the adverse effects associated with Gardasil.  The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) reported that compared to another vaccine given at the same age,

Gardasil had triple the number of ER visits (5,021 versus 1,667)…reports of side effects were up to 30 times higher.

Gardasil out, then, and not because of one news story.  I have a confession: I am a minimal vaccinator.  My 3-year-old has had few shots, and only after discussions with his holistic pediatrician and studying on our part.  My 11-month old? Not a single stick. Not until he is at least 3 years old. We’ll be getting a religious exemption for school, that’s for sure. I know, I know! I’m going to poison your children with my silliness!

Here’s the thing. I don’t believe that thimerosol, the mercury-based preservative that used to be in most shots, or aluminum, which is currently the heavy metal of choice preserving most shots on the Childhood Recommended Vaccine Schedule, are the causes of autism or other neurological differences.  I do, however, suspect that nowadays, we have mercury and other heavy metals building up from exposure in the environment and from our diets (fish and high fructose corn syrup, to name a couple).  Then, after years of gallivanting around, collecting heavy metals as we go, we decide to have children.  For some immune-delicate children, the vaccine is then the bump over the edge into a neurological difference.

But guess what: Gardasil does not contain thimerosol or any other preservative! So it’s safe, right? Well…I have a problem with that statement, too.  Gardasil has had some awful adverse effects, many of them neurological in nature (seizures, stroke, and yes, even death).  So what the genital warts is causing these reactions?!

We don’t know, yet.  Neither does Gardasil manufacturer Merck (have you heard the one about the drug company who gave girlies shots to pay for Vioxx adverse effects?  A real knee-slapper!).  Merck says that,

Experts at the FDA and CDC also continue to review data and, as recently as four months ago, said ‘GARDASIL continues to be safe and effective, and its benefits continue to outweigh its risks.’

Wow.  The FDA has taken time from its busy schedule overlooking disgusting peanut factories and ignoring all known non-industry science on BPA to weigh in on the HPV shot.  How nice.

But what I’d like to know is, “outweigh its risks” according to whom? Cervical cancer, which is overwhelmingly caused by HPV, kills 4,000 women every year (or .006 of all cancer deaths), far less than AIDS or even pneumonia. Market a shot that can prevent HIV, and maybe I’ll bite.

If you ask me, this drug simply hasn’t been studied enough. (Early birth control pills, anyone?) Merck got trigger happy with the shot, and the FDA let them rush it to market.  We’re not even sure if one shot and two boosters will be enough for lifetime immunity to HPV, or if girls will have to have more shots later in life.

I hope that by the time you have to decide on this shot, there will be much more information available to you.  As for us, we’re avoiding it and putting the fear of God into her teaching her to respect her own body and make good choices.

Oh, and for parents of boys, who are giving a tiny sigh of relief that they don’t have to make this decision: Last month, Merck asked the FDA to approve Gardasil for boys, too. What fun!

I originally mouthed off about Gardasil on the Nature’s Child blog.  Visit the site for more in-depth discussion about vaccines.

Photo: yanivba on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.


  1. So sad that you are the one considered “silly” for delaying vax’s! We are considered “silly” too.

    Good for you.

  2. Thanks for this post. My sister was just mentioning thinking of getting this shot, I’ll be forwarding this to her as food for thought. The high rate of side effects is alarming.

    As for vaccines, I wouldn’t call delaying vaccines “silly.” But I figure my son will get much higher exposures to mercury and other toxins via the environment, and having all his vaccines up to date gives me the peace of mind to know that he’s not going to be part of the rising measles and whooping cough, etc, epidemics.

  3. And, as if people didn’t already think I’m silly for following an alternative vax schedule for my son, out comes the ruling today that mercury and MMR do not cause autism. While that may (or may not) be true, it gives my doctor and others more ammunition to say I’m crazy for not wanting so many chemicals and substances injected into my baby. It’s sad that we can’t have an open, adult, considerate discussion of vaccines in this country in regards to what they may or may not be doing to our children. I agree with you that our heavy metal exposure is high and giving these shots to our kids while they’re still so small might not be the greatest idea.

    It’s a complex issue, certainly. But I, too, don’t enjoy being labeled as “silly” or “crazy” because I wish to protect my children.


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