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Gardasil: The Denial Continues

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  • Renate Klein by way of Lynette Dumble
    Gardasil: The Denial Continues http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=9112 Strangely last I looked only one comment and positive...would have thought
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2009
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      Gardasil: The Denial Continues

      Strangely last I looked only one comment and positive...would have thought
      I'd be eaten alive...
      Online Opinion ~~ Tuesday, 30 June 2009
      Formatted version at:
      Gardasil: the denial continues
      By Renate Klein

      Two weeks after receiving the “cervical cancer” vaccination Gardasil,
      26-year-old Shannon from Melbourne remembers, “it became so difficult
      to breathe that I went straight to the emergency room. I was very
      frightened at this point. Two weeks before I had been fit and healthy,
      and by this stage I was limping around the house like a stroke victim,
      wheezing and worried I was suffocating.”

      At the hospital Shannon had x-rays, blood tests and an MRI. She was
      told that the lining of her left lung had become so inflamed that it
      was rubbing against her chest wall each time she breathed. The Head
      Consultant looking after her said that she must have gotten some
      mysterious virus and that Gardasil had been tested and was safe. She
      was released with no diagnosis other than “pleurisy” and given painkillers.

      Five months after receiving the vaccine she saw a neurologist who
      confirmed that she had damage to her left side and that it was “an
      auto-immune reaction, resulting in inflamed lining of the left lung
      and nerves on the left side, with a temporal connection to Gardasil injection”.

      Shannon says she’s never been so sick all her life. Fourteen months
      later she had to quit her job and is now desperately trying to regain
      her health.

      Jade, a healthy 15-year-old girl from Adelaide spent six weeks in
      hospital after the first Gardasil injection because of severe lower
      back pain and paralysis of the legs. She was advised to get the second
      Gardasil injection and “within two hours she had paralysis of the legs
      again. They just gave out on her while she was walking along.” Twelve
      months later, Jade almost drowned, her leg paralysis recurs regularly
      and she was re-admitted to hospital. She is in excruciating pain and
      the daily physiotherapy makes it worse. Morphine helps her sleep for a
      few hours but then the pain starts again. Her relatives are beside
      themselves with worry. And as they say “not one medical person would
      say that Gardasil was responsible for her condition. The moment you
      mention it, they all clam up.” Despite an MRI no one has a diagnosis.

      Shannon and Jade are just two of the Australian girls and women who
      have become seriously sick after receiving one or all three shots of
      the “cervical cancer” vaccine Gardasil free of charge, care of the
      Australian Government. Their upsetting stories and many others can be
      read here.

      The free vaccinations for girls aged 12-13 and women up to 26 were
      started in April 2007. Gardasil is a vaccine against four strains of
      the sexually transmitted infection with human papillomavirus (HPV),
      two of which are associated with the development of cervical cancer.
      There are more than 100 strains of HPV and we are told that up to 80
      per cent of people acquire the virus at some point in their lives. The
      good news is that in 90 per cent of these, a healthy immune system
      causes the virus infection to disappear in one to two years and no
      abnormal cells, let alone cancer, will ever develop (Lippman et al., 2007).

      Moreover, as Merck-and GlaxoSmithKline-funded Rachel Skinner and
      colleagues write, “Estimates of the prevalence of HPV infection among
      women range from 2% to 44%, depending on age” (Skinner et al., Medical
      Journal of Australia, Vol. 188, number 4, February 18, 2008). Such
      figures are much less scary than the widely quoted “80 percent
      infected” (both women and men). Even more confusing is the fact that
      HPV infection, usually classified as a sexually transmitted infection
      (STI), can already be found in new born babies even if their mothers
      do not carry the HPV virus (Xavier Castellsague and colleagues, 2009
      “Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection in pregnant women and
      mother-to-child transmission of genital HPV genotypes: a prospective
      study in Spain” BMC Infectious Diseases, 9:74).

      There is a lot more to learn about the HPV virus than the simple story
      of a “cancer virus” annihilated by a miracle vaccine that the
      proponents of Gardasil want us to believe.

      Furthermore, deaths from cervical cancer in Australia are continuing
      to decline probably due to a mixture of regular screening, improved
      general health and sexual hygiene. According to a report by the World
      Health Organisation, in 2006, 249 women died in Australia, and
      cervical cancer mortality ranks 17 out of all 23 listed cancers
      (WHO/ICO, 2007, p8). While every death is a tragedy, pre-cancerous
      cells are being detected through systematic Pap screening programs.
      Indeed, Gardasil advocates caution that women must continue with the
      Pap Smears as the vaccine will not be 100 per cent protective. For all
      these reasons, the question really must be asked how the need for this
      costly vaccine can be justified?

      Australia was the first country to rush into administering this new
      and experimental vaccine on a grand scale. Straight after the first
      vaccinations reports about serious adverse effects began to surface
      (“Gardasil: we must not ignore the risks” Renate Klein and Melinda
      Tankard Reist, June 1, 2007 and “The Gardasil 'miracle' coming
      undone?” Renate Klein, August 21, 2008.)

      Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL) and Merck - the manufacturers of
      Gardasil - deny that there are any problems. So does the Therapeutic
      Goods Administration (TGA). They continue their assessment of
      “Gardasil as safe and effective”. Their latest communiqué of May 5,
      2009 states that “As of April 2009 a total of 1,304 suspected adverse
      reactions have been reported …” but that “The great majority have been
      mild and common problems such as soreness, swelling, or redness of the
      injection site”.

      These “mild problems” are a far cry from Shannon’s and Jade’s serious
      illnesses or from Julie’s experience of grand mal seizures and the
      woes of Philippa who continues to suffer from pancreatitis - all
      developed after the Gardasil injections.

      In the USA by May 2009 more than 16,000 adverse reactions were
      reported (these figures represent only between 1 and 10 per cent of
      all adverse reactions) and 47 deaths have been associated with
      Gardasil: four times the number of deaths associated with Menactra (a
      vaccine against meningococcal).

      The Gardasil manufacturers maintain that these deaths are not directly
      linked to the vaccines. With respect to the deaths of healthy US
      teenagers from cardiac problems the suggestion has been made that
      these girls might have suffered from a pre-existing undiagnosed
      weakness (for example, a heart murmur). For the tragic testimonial of
      a heartbroken mother who lost her child, see here:

      Gardasil is not recommended for pregnant women but there have been
      reports of spontaneous abortions and fetal abnormalities when pregnant
      women were inadvertently injected with Gardasil during the Merck
      trials. Merck is sufficiently concerned that it has set up a registry
      to follow pregnant women who have received Gardasil. It is unknown if
      Gardasil will affect fertility.

      While the promoters of Gardasil continue to assert that these health
      concerns are unwarranted and that their vaccine will greatly reduce
      the incidence of cervical cancer, such claims are far from
      uncontested. In November 2008, 13 scientists from Germany’s Bielefeld
      University challenged the STIKO (the equivalent of the TGA) to
      reconsider their endorsement of Gardasil for health insurance
      reimbursement. Their main point is that results from the
      manufacturer-sponsored research trials resulted in only 17 per cent
      reduction of cervical lesions - nothing like the 98 per cent of
      reductions Merck is claiming.

      In April and May 2009 in the UK and Scotland, groups of parents have
      started to sue GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of the “sibling”
      vaccine Cervarix (from which CSL also gains royalties) for seriously
      injuring their children. In New Zealand, up to 80 schools are refusing
      to implement the HPV vaccinations. Even one of the scientists involved
      in the Merck research of Gardasil, Diane Harper, has since 2007 called
      it a “great public health experiment” and voices long-term concerns
      about safety and effectiveness, especially when girls as young as 11
      are vaccinated. As she put it, “We don't know the vaccine will
      continue to be effective. To be honest, we don't have efficacy data in
      these young girls right now.” (“Vaccination campaign funded by drug
      firm”, Sarah Boseley, March 26, 2007). Two years later, the situation
      hasn’t changed: fewer than 1,200 girls under 15 have ever been in
      Gardasil trials. And yet millions of 12-13 year old girls have already
      received the three shots.

      On June 9, 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a
      new label for Gardasil which now includes fainting (syncope) and
      seizures in its Warnings and Precautions. And, crucially, in Australia
      ordinary citizens are beginning to be critical of the HPV vaccination
      - quite simply because more and more personally know injured girls and
      young women or hear about them from friends or teachers.

      But the Australian government remains silent and thereby continues its
      denial about problems with Gardasil. The TGA hasn’t even issued a new
      communiqué that details the June FDA warnings. It is high time that
      the Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, showed leadership. Today,
      June 30, 2009, brings the end of free vaccinations for women up to age
      26: a good time to suspend all Gardasil vaccinations (those for
      schoolgirls included) and check the health status of every single
      woman and girl who was vaccinated with Gardasil since April 2007. This
      should be done with the help of the belatedly implemented HPV
      Register. Such a serious investigation will show the world that
      Australia cares about the health of its young female population and
      will hopefully give the victims of Gardasil the rightful
      acknowledgment and care that so far has been sorely lacking.

      About the Author
      Dr Renate Klein, a biologist and social scientist, is a long-term
      health researcher and has written extensively on reproductive
      technologies and feminist theory. She is a former associate professor
      in Women's Studies at Deakin University in Melbourne, a founder of
      FINRRAGE (Feminist International Network of Resistance to Reproductive
      and Genetic Engineering) and an Advisory Board Member of Hands Off Our Ovaries.
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