Is Gardasil Safe?

Is Gardasil safe?

Gardasil is a somewhat controversial vaccine. Gardasil promises to protect girls and young women from cervical cancer. Why is this drug considered controversial? Because Gardasil doesn’t actually protect against “cervical cancer” — rather, it is a vaccination against the most common types of Human papilloma virus, or HPV. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, by some reports the most common STD in America, that can cause many symptoms, the deadliest of which is cervical cancer.

You can see where this is going. Many people suggest that an education in abstinence (and the practice of abstinence itself) is the best way to protect young women from the dangers of HPV and cervical cancer. Still others (like myself) remember what it was like to be a teenager, a time when even the most steadfast of convictions was easy to overlook in the moment.

Regardless of how you feel morally about Gardasil, you have to admit that a vaccine that could prevent certain forms of cancer is a good thing. And we got even better news about Gardasil today.

A government report released today suggests that Gardasil has a record of safety in line or better than other vaccines already in wide public use. As with any drug, some serious complications and side effects have occurred from Gardasil (including at least 20 deaths and two cases of Lou Gehrig’s disease) but the evidence suggests that none of these incidents were directly related to use of the vaccine. In fact, the most common complications after a woman receives a vaccination with Gardasil are fainting episodes. There is some suggestion that Gardasil leads to an increased risk for blood clots, but the study released today suggests that these incidents are related more to the use of oral contraceptives and a high level of obesity in teen girls.

Seven million girls and young women have been given Gardasil since it was approved, making it difficult to prove that health effects in this population were caused by the vaccine itself.

Dr. Barbara A. Slade, a medical officer with the Centers for Disease Control and one of the authors of the study, had this to say: “We feel confident recommending people get the vaccine; the benefits still outweigh the risks. This is the most complete picture we have.”

The Gardasil vaccine was approved for girls and young women ages 9 to 26 and is now recommended as part of a vaccination routine for girls aged 11 and 12.

The study on the adverse effects of Gardasil analyzed nearly 13,000 reports of side effects that occurred after immunization with the HPV vaccine between June 1, 2006 and December 31, 2008. During this period, more than 23 million doses of vaccine were distributed to doctors and clinics. Sounds like a big number of vaccinations until you realize that Gardasil requires three doses over time. Final tally — over 7 million girls have been vaccinated.

The new government report says that there are an average of 53 adverse sid effect events for every 100,000 doses of vaccine distributed. Fainting occurred most frequently, though doctors are not entirely sure why 8 girls out of 100,000 that were vaccinated have been fainting. Probably it has something to do with the second most common side effect from Gardasil — dizziness. 7.5 per 100,000 girls reported dizziness after receiving the vaccine.

To determine that Gardasil is safe, reports of side effects were compared with the same reports from the use of other vaccines given to similar populations of girls around the same age. Out of the total number of reports, just 6.2 percent, or 772 total reports, were considered ‘serious events” by the CDC, including 32 reports of death after vaccination, though only 20 of the deaths could be verified. Of the 20 verified deaths, 14 of the deceased had only received the HPV vaccine, while others had received multiple vaccines. The average age of the girls who died was 18 — a high number considering the age the vaccine is normally started at. The causes of death in these cases varied widely. Two were due to diabetic conditions, one case related to prescription drug abuse, a case of meningitis, one case of juvenile Lou Gehrig’s disease, three severe pulmonary embolisms, six cardiac incidents, and two deaths related to pre existing seizure disorders.

The widely different causes of death make it difficult for anyone to determine if Gardasil is the underlying cause, or even if the vaccine played a role at all.

4 thoughts on “Is Gardasil Safe?

  1. Sarah A.

    Jodi,

    I am 18 years old. My doctor suggested that I get the Gardasil vaccine, but I am very sceptical about vaccines so I decided to do some research on the effects it may have. This is the first page on Gardasil that I found and I have decided to definitely not get the shot! I am just writing to thank you for posting your story so that others, such as myself, can be warned.

    I am so sorry for what you and your daughter are going through; I can’t imagine how hard it must be. The only advice I can give you is just try to keep thinking positive thoughts, even though it must be hard sometimes. I truly believe that directing postive energy at something instead of negative will help, but that is just my opinion. I really hope that you find a way to make her better, or that you already have.

    Thank you.

  2. Justin Daniels

    There has been no evidence showing that Gardasil will cause most of the few deaths that have occured except the family blaming the vaccine due to having gotten it recently. While several deaths that have occured have been shown to be due to brain tumors, drug abuse, etc people still try to blame Gardasil which is ridiculous. Over 7 million women have received this vaccine and 99.9% have zero side effects and the main side effect is the dizziness which you can get from getting blood drawn and any type of needle stick due to your body reacting, not due to the actual vaccine in most cases.

    Parachutes don’t open and work 100% of the time, yet I’m still gonna wear one every time I jump out of an airplane. Gardasil is safe and has zero effects 99+% of the time and I’d recommend it to my wife and daughters as a medical professional.

  3. Jennifer

    We don’t know the long term side effects. Guardasil does not protect against many strains of oncogenic HPV, yet most people are under the impression that once they get it, they can’t get cervical cancer. The vaccine being called the “cervical cancer” vaccine is ridiculous in itself. It’s not a cancer vaccine, it’s a vaccine against a small number of strains of oncogenic HPV.

    As a health care professional myself, I stay away from most vaccines and I don’t recommend them unless the benefits far outweigh the risks. In this case, I believe the risks outweigh any potential benefits.

    I think the medical profession has forgotten their oath… first do no harm. We seem to be willing to cause harm for a POTENTIAL benefit.

    I will not be getting this vaccine and I would not recommend it.

  4. Elizabeth Saunders

    My 13 year old healthy and vibrant daughter had her first dose of the Gardasil vaccine on the afternoon of October 8th and came home fine merrily complaining about that the nurse who administered it had been really mean to who her friend who was scared of the shot, on the morning of October 9th my daughter’s symptoms of dizziness, fatigue, nausea,and loss of appetite began. within a week add to that light sensitivity, lack of concentration and focus, sudden
    weight loss, extreme palour, extreme exhaustion and fatigue, joint pain, muscle weakness, alternating hot and cold sensations, disturbed sleep patterns, restless sleep, unusual heavy, early and painful period,and other less significant but yet trying complaints. These reached their peak 2 weeks later and have now somewhat decreased, but she is still so ill and fatigued she can not attend school. It has been almost a month. Though she has had some improvement it is so slow that at times I wonder if I am just being hopeful. She doesn’t look like a frail ghost like she did two weeks ago at least. I would love to be proven wrong in my assertion that this is an adverse reaction
    to Gardasil. But it rather looks like it, after all she was absolutely well one day, had a shot and was sick the next with a myriad of symptoms that I have since found a number of girls and women have suffered from.
    So far no one has been able to even somewhat indicate an alternative diagnosis through blood tests or through assessment. the best we’ve gotten is ‘It could be a virus.” What kind of virus?” I ask. The response “Oh there are a few it could be.” So we’re supposed to accept it’s one of a few viruses that can’t be named, but completely dismiss the idea that someones body has responded negatively to a foreign substance injected in to their system? – ridiculous. It is maddening that medical professionals refuse to acknowledge that it would be worth investigating that my daughter may be one of the rare (perhaps less rare than we are aware) people who have and will
    react badly to this vaccine. I am scared and worried and sad for her. Not to mention the guilt I feel that I bought the line that this vaccine was safe enough to give my child when I questioned why the dire rush to get this vaccine into all these girls when it is not a cervical cancer vaccine as touted, but an HPV vaccine.

    To the professed “medical professional” Justin Daniels who
    likens taking gardasil to putting on a parachute before jumping,I must say that is such an assanine comparison that it bears questioning where you got your degree in whatever medical field you are in, if indeed you have one at all. I would grab my children and run from a doctor who would a) be as insensitive as you are in your message, b) state among other spurious information that 99.9% of over 7 million have zero side effects and expects anyone to take you seriously ( I would happily read the material you are pulling your information from should you be able to produce it), and c)
    believes that gardasil use in life is as useful as a parachute
    in skydiving. I have no stats but I’m pretty sure that most of us that haven’t had the gardasil
    “parachute” available to us have jumped through life without plunging to our early death.
    If you feel this vaccine is such a necessity I suggest that you go take the 3 doses of the vaccine, and if you feel great after, which you likely will – good for you. if you feel as sick as my daughter is at present, please just suck it up and get dragged around by your parents to a whole load of docs who can do nothing to help you, but instead sit on the fence and make comments that indicate that they have no knowledge about the vaccine whatsoever, but have bought the party line hook line and sinker.

    Do not dismiss that fact that for the small percentage who have adverse reactions, that those reactions
    are destroying a large percentage of their lives.

    I allowed one dose of Gardasil into my child and after what I have witnessed it will be the only dose, as there is no way I am popping another vial of what appears to be poison to her system into her.

    As a mother, a more often than not intelligent human being with a degree in a field other than medicine which apparently nullifies my voice about my own children’s health, despite excellent knowledge of my own children from years and years of hands on daily experience with them, I would not with my eyes now opened to the potential nasty nasty side efects of Gardasil recommend this vaccine again to my daughters.

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