HPV Vaccine – To Vaccinate or Not?

HPV Vaccine – To Vaccinate or Not?

The tween is now at the age where she will be offered the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine which is intended to protect against cervical cancer. The vaccine is said to protect against cervical cancer for at least 20 years. Clearly it sounds like a good thing. Cervical cancer is close to any woman’s heart and being able to protect your daughter from it, albeit for twenty years, is nothing short of a miracle.

I was all set to book her an appointment to have the injection (they don’t offer vaccinations in her school) when I visited the doctor with my toddler last week and asked the GP about it. Although he said he would do it, he urged me to investigate the side effects of the vaccine before agreeing to give it to my daughter. It turns out a girl at the school just down the road from where I live received the vaccine and was left paralysed. And it isn’t an isolated case.

I had a look at side effects on the NHS website and it almost dismisses them, stating that as information is received directly from the patients and not medical facilities it can’t be recorded. Unless the patients themselves report such side effects I’m not sure exactly how else a clinic would learn of them. If you dig around, however, there are plenty of sites with some pretty worrying information on them, like this one, which details paralysis and even death of previously healthy teenagers shortly after having the vaccine.  Infact in just a year, between 2010 and 2011, 26 deaths were recorded following the administration of the vaccine. In the grand scheme of things, that’s probably a relatively small percentage, but for 26 young girls to die after having an injection which is supposed to protect them, is nothing short of a tragedy.

Why on earth is a vaccine killing them? Why is it paralysing them? (an even greater amount of young girls are left paralysed or with lasting damage following the injection) Is it really the lesser of two evils?

As a parent, it scares the hell out of me that while I may be protecting my daughter from cervical cancer I might be signing her death warrant or condemning her to a life or pain or paralysis. I was always under the impression that this injection protected the girls for life, not just 20 years and from more than just 4 strains of cervical cancer when there are apparently hundreds of them. Needless to say, I’ll be thinking about this one very hard, investigating some more and discussing it with the tween. It’s her body after all and I think with something as important is this, she deserves the right to decide what she puts into her body.

What do you think? Am I the only one who was completely misinformed about this vaccine?

Update: Following conversations on Twitter, you might find the following information regarding the safety of the vaccine helpful, especially as this post and its comments do tend to lean towards the potential side effects of the drug. http://hpv.kegel.com/faq/  http://www.jostrust.org.uk/about-cervical-cancer/hpv-vaccines-and-preventing-cervical-cancer and http://www.jostrust.org.uk/about-cervical-cancer/hpv-vaccines-and-preventing-cervical-cancer/frequently-asked-questions-on-hpv-vaccination

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  1. October 15, 2014 / 6:53 pm

    I too hadn’t given the HPV vaccination any thought, I’d just assumed my 12 year old daughter would have it. Having read your post, and the comments on the NHS website I’ll be investigating further. I realise that a smaller number of girls are affected compared to those who might develop cervical cancer but it is definitely concerning, particularly since the Japanese government have withdrawn the vaccine. Thanks for highlighting. #MMWBH

    • Mum Reinvented
      October 17, 2014 / 5:42 pm

      My thoughts exactly, definitely worth looking into further!

  2. October 17, 2014 / 2:43 pm

    Wow, I didn’t know most of that stuff. What an hard decision to have to make. *hugs*

    • Mum Reinvented
      October 17, 2014 / 5:19 pm

      I know! It’s actually been banned in one country too so it’s definitely worth investigating prior to having that’s for sure!

  3. October 18, 2014 / 8:40 pm

    I understand your worry. Unfortunately, every medical treatment has risks. I can’t advise you, as I wasn’t offered the vaccine myself (I was already too old when it came onto the market, though I could’ve benefited from it). That being said, the risk is probably pretty small (have you looked up how many girls/women got the vaccine in 2010/2011?).

    Have you investigated the alternatives? For example, in the Netherlands, women can get tested for HPV and if they have the virus, they’ll get regular pap smears (the smear for all women over 30 will be discontinued in 2016, which I’m gratefulf or as I’ll be 30 then and I’d hate to have a smear). Twenty years protection doesn’t soudn liek that great given that the HPV takes ten years to become active and turn into cervical cancer, and it can also be killed by the body’s immune system in that time period even if the woman hasn’t been vaccinated (which is why they’ll test women for HPV from age 30 in the Netherlands and not fromt he tiem they become sexually active).

    I’d probably myself have taken the risk if givent he opportunity, but then again I’m not you or your daughter.

    • Mum Reinvented
      October 19, 2014 / 8:50 am

      I too was too old to have it when it was introduced a few years ago so wasn’t ever anything I had to consider and to be honest if my doctor hadn’t mentioned the risks I would probably have just let her have it and not questioned it as she has never reacted to any immunisation before. Plus as you say the percentage of people who have died or become paralysed since having the vaccine is small, I think the fact that death and paralysis have been mentioned though is what scared me compared to other vaccines she’s had in the past.

      In the UK they’ve only just introduced the HPV test as part of the smear test, but this is from age 25 (there has been much made of the fact that women under the age of 25 are dying from cervical cancer in the UK and have never even been offered a smear test prior to becoming ill). If they don’t find any HPV in the first part of the test they don’t continue to test for other types of abnormalities in the sample, which to me is a little odd considering cervical cancer isn’t only caused by HPV, but then I’m no doctor. At the moment we have private healthcare, so I can pretty much pick and choose what my daughter has in terms of testing and vaccinations, so I’m lucky that I have the time to decide whether she will have the vaccine or not or follow an alternative testing/vaccine route to the one prescribed by the NHS.

      My mum had a hysterectectomy before she was 40 and I often have to have repeat smears due to abnormal cells, so it is something that is close to my heart and I want to protect my daughter from. I am swaying towards giving her the vaccine, but I’ll probably take a little more time to investigate it first and this post and the responses I’ve had are really helping me to decide about what to do. Thank you.

  4. October 18, 2014 / 10:04 pm

    I haven’t even thought about this yet but I’m definitely going to need to investigate this a bit more!

    Scary stuff!

    • Mum Reinvented
      October 19, 2014 / 8:35 am

      I just always assumed I’d let her have it. If it wasn’t for my doctor mentioning the possible side effects I’d never have looked into it further. To be fair, she’s never reacted to any other vaccination she has had, so what’s to say she would react to this one. I’m still not sure what to do about it, but as we have private healthcare here at least I have the time to decide if and when she will have it I guess

  5. October 19, 2014 / 3:00 pm

    I think you do need the information in black and white, such as the potential side effects. However you also need to weigh up the possibility of the number of lives it can also save. It’s a tough one as a parent.

    • Mum Reinvented
      October 20, 2014 / 5:22 pm

      Definitely. I’m hoping it is the miracle vaccine I originally thought it was and not the one that is portrayed in all of the research I’ve been doing!

  6. October 19, 2014 / 4:04 pm

    I remember it coming to the market and I was a couple of years too old for it so never had it myself, it is scary that it has such side affects. x

    • Mum Reinvented
      October 20, 2014 / 5:20 pm

      I honestly thought it was the most amazing vaccine to become available. I’m hoping to find something to persuade me that it really is.

  7. October 19, 2014 / 7:07 pm

    I think it is a very dodgy vaccine. I really hope when it comes to my daughter in a few years time they sort it out or withdraw it. I’ve heard too much be press about it.

    • Mum Reinvented
      October 20, 2014 / 5:18 pm

      I think I must have been living in a cave when all the bad press about it was around. I’d literally heard nothing about it until I did a little digging.

  8. October 19, 2014 / 10:22 pm

    I didn’t know about all these possible negative effect. I am quite stumped. I need to find some more information about this.

  9. October 20, 2014 / 9:38 am

    As someone who has family members that have died from this and has a friend with cervical cancer I would vacinnate

    • Mum Reinvented
      October 20, 2014 / 5:16 pm

      Thanks Jen, your opinion definitely matters to me on this one x

  10. October 20, 2014 / 12:34 pm

    I cant answer this as I have no little ones, but I had it as did my siblings and all of my nieces and nephews x

  11. Karen
    October 21, 2014 / 10:07 am

    My daughter had the hpv vaccinations in 2009 – she became unwell after the first vaccination and her symptoms became much worse after the second vaccination: her symptoms: dizziness, weakness, fatigue, vision disturbance, gastro problems; sleep disturbance; vertigo; persistent sore throat; frequent seizure-like episodes. After the first vaccination the GP dismissed her symptoms as a virus, which we accepted. After the second vaccination we wrote a timeline and the connection with the vaccinations became very clear. She has been diagnosed with POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia) and autonomic dysfunction and has to take medication for control her heart rate and blood pressure. Further investigation has shown that her illness is being caused by antibodies (autoimmune reaction) that are affecting the nerves in her brain that control autonomic function. Neurologists are treating her and trying to find the right drug treatment to keep her stable. Before the vaccination she was well, very fit and a very sociable teenager. Now she is disabled. The authorities and vaccine manufacturer dismiss these cases (and we are certainly not alone in this) as ‘coincidental’. There are many girls in the UK, France, Spain, Denmark whose families are highlighting similar cases and their symptoms are very similar. This is not a coincidence. Thank you for posting this blog and allowing comments, as anything that raises awareness might benefit other girls and prevent them from going through this nightmare.

    • Mum Reinvented
      October 21, 2014 / 2:25 pm

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Karen, the information you’ve given me and others reading this post is invaluable. I’m so sorry your daughter has been through so much following the vaccine, what you’ve all been through just sounds utterly heartbreaking x

  12. Caron Ryalls
    October 21, 2014 / 1:06 pm

    Hi, and thanks for encouraging your readers to research the HPV vaccine before blindly consenting for their daughters to get it. Unfortunately my daughter is one of the (very many) young girls who became ill after her HPV vaccination, so this subject is very close to my heart.

    I didn’t think twice about signing the consent form for this vaccination, as I have watched close members of my family battle cancer – I lost two grandparents to bowel and stomach cancer and my dad has, thankfully, survived three different and unrelated types of cancer, so I’ve witnessed first hand the devastation cancer brings to a family. I jumped at the opportunity to give my daughter one less type of cancer the worry about.

    Prior to her vaccination my daughter was a high acheiver at school although she lived for sport and dance, representing the school at netball, hockey and athletics and spending every spare minute at her dance school or at dance festivals. Her career choices were always sport or dance related.

    She became ill two weeks after her first shot of the HPV vaccination series – we thought it was a virus and she seemed to be OK after a week. Two months later, she had the second shot of the series and again, two weeks later she became ill, this time much more severely – I thought it was a really bad case of ‘flu – it never occurred to be that it could be related to the vaccine. This time she didn’t recover. She would appear to be picking up but would constantly relapse, with new weird and wonderful symptoms appearing week on week. The doctors had no idea what was wrong with her. She was constantly exhausted, had persistent headaches, her mucles ached, her joints hurt, she would lose the feeling in her legs or arms, her muscles would twitch constantly, her hair came out in clumps, she had problems with her eyes and problems focussing, we had to have the house in darkness because light hurt her eyes, we had to whisper because noise hurt her ears, she had chest pain so severe she thought she was having a heart attack and abdominal pain so severe she couldn’t move without screaming, she developed new allergies, including to our 14 year old pet labrador who she had grown up with, she had dizziness so bad she had to be helped to the bathroom and had to sit down to shower, she had constant nausea and periods when she would vomit up to a dozen times a day and acid reflux that would wake her at night, she had terrible menstrual problems after just becoming regular, she couldn’t regulate her body temperature, shivering when everyone else was warm and being almost feverish as we shivered through the winter months, she developed excessive sweating and excessive watering of her eyes, rashes would regularly appear on different parts of her body and she would get the most horrific bruises with the slightest pressure. But the most distressing symptoms for my daughter were the cognitive problems. Her short term memory was shot, her concentration, even on good days was terrible and she lost the ability completely to multi-task. Her brain would seem to almost shut down on some days and it felt like living with an elderly person with dementia, such was the difficulty trying to hold a conversation with her. When she made it into school she found it really hard to take in the information and an hour’s lesson could leave her exhausted and symptomatic for days after.

    These symptoms came and went, usually in clusters that seemed to have no pattern. She saw many doctors, none of who knew what to do with her, so she ended up with a diagnosis of ME/CFS and the only treatment offered was to see a pyschologist for an hour every 4 weeks. After 6 months I came across an article about the side effects of HPV vaccination and discovered my daughters symptoms were pretty typical of the reactions suffered by LOTS of girls in the UK and other countries. It was my Eureka moment, but not one doctor wanted to know, in fact several doctors, especially A&E doctors became extremely hostile at the mention of it. Her paediatrician pushed at every appointment for us to agree to a referral to a psychiatrist, but we refused, insisting that her problems were physical and vaccine related. Few tests were done, because the NHS guidelines for ME/CFS don’t support investigations as they reinforce ‘illness behaviour’. As parents we had to tread very carefully as several families in the same position had had child protection investigations against them started, as their doctors believed they were harming their children emotionally by giving them false illness beliefs etc (munchausens by proxy) – for all of the families, the cases were eventually dismissed because the charges were complete garbage. You don’t realise that having a sick child that doesn’t fit into the neat diagnostic boxes that doctors like to work with can leave parents vulnerable to child protection proceedings – shouting vaccine damage on top leaves you in a very precarious position.

    Within 12 months of having her HPV vaccination, my beautiful, bright, healthy and energetic 13 year old had had to give up all her sport and dance activities and the most education she could manage was a maximum of 6 hours a week of school, although she had periods of missing weeks of school at a time. Her education was in tatters, she missed out on so many of the normal teenage things that are taken for granted, and the sense of isolation was devastating.

    After missing three of her formative teenage years, by being in touch with lots of other families with HPV vaccine injured teenagers, we eventually started to put pieces together and pushed for specific tests. The things we discovered were that she was extremely deficient in Vitamin D and iron and borderline for Vit B12, gluten and dairy would cause symptom flare so she was probably intolerant and her autonomic nervous system wasn’t working properly, which meant that everything that the body does automatically – regulating heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, digestion, hormone release etc – was haywire in my daughter. We eventually found a great neurologist, recommended by another family, who confirmed this was not uncommon after vaccination, and my daughter is finally receiving some, albeit limited treatment. We have since discovered that a particular form of autonomic dysfunction (POTS) has been flagged up as a safety concern with European Medicines Agency and they are investigating.

    We’re still not at the end of the road in finding out exactly what damage the vaccine has done to my daughter, as she is still having investigations for seizure activity and connective tissue problems, but at least we’re getting nearer and three years on, she at least now getting treatment to address some of her problems, which means she is able to attend college on a more frequent time-table and at least have something of a social life.

    What has shocked me most about our experience is that had by daughter developed cervical cancer, the medical profession would have leapt into action and she would have received treatment and compassion by the people treating her. If she had gone for regular smear tests, it’s very likely she would have had abnormalities treated before it turned to cancer and the risk of her dying from it would have been extremely small. She could have lead a full and normal life. In having this vaccination, she now has a disability which will affect her for the rest of her life. We don’t know if she will ever be able to have a full time job or a career and we have no idea how her health will be affected in the future. What we do know is that she still has to go for smear tests because the risk of HPV infection and abnormalities is still there and she is NOT protected against cervical cancer – she can still get cervical cancer from the non-vaccine relevant strains.

    I’m not sure where you got the idea that the HPV vaccine protects against HPV 16/18 for 20 years from, the longest I;ve heard that they can confirm protection is 5 years for Gardasil and 8 years for Cervarix. The clinical trials have not been running long enough to confirm protection for 20 years. In fact little is known about how the vaccine will affect the rates or mortality of cervical cancer in the future because there are so many questions still that cannot be answered. If the vaccine prevents the spread of HPV 16/18, will the other high risk HPV strains become more virulent to fill this void, and could the other HPV strains be more aggressive? Will the protection against HPV 16/18 wane with time – as it’s given to 12 year olds, the protection needs to last at least 30/40 years – and yet there are no plans for boosters. What happens to the vaccinated girls if protection wanes and no booster is given – are they more susceptible to the vaccine relevant strains – will their immune system against HPV be altered? Could this HPV vaccine actually result, in a couple of decades in an actual INCREASE in cervical cancer? Unfortunately I’ve discovered the hard way that my precious teenage daughter was part of a public health experiment that has cost her her health, but earned the pharmaceutical company billions.

    To give some idea of the safety concerns for the HPV vaccination: Japan withdrew recommendation for the HPV vaccination 6 months after introducing it into the vaccination programme because of the high number and severity of adverse reactions compared to other vaccines introduced at the same time; in France there was a public symposium of scientists from both sides of the vaccine safety debate, where presentations were made to politicians and MPs – France has had over 50 lawsuits filed with the courts regarding HPV vaccine injuries; in Spain a group of families of injured teenagers have met with the Health ministry to highlight safety concerns and lobby for the withdrawl of the vaccine; the Danish pharmacovigilance agency has flagged up with the European Medicines Agency autonomic dysfunction as a safety concern following HPV vaccination; in the UK a group of families and affected girls (my daughter included) were invited to the House of Commons to present their experiences to the Shadow Minister for public health and many questions have been asked in parliament by MP’s with injured constituents; in Columbia families have taken to th streets to protest about the health problems suffered by their daughters following HPV vaccination; in India a case is before the Supreme Court relating to HPV vaccine injuries and fraudulent clinic trials; in the US a prominent and well respected neurologist has twice published in medical journals her concerns about autonomic dysfunction following HPV vaccination; a well respected autoimmune expert from Isreal has published in medical journals his concerns about the development of autonomic problems and autoimmune problems following HPV vaccination, and this is probably the tip of iceberg.

    I apologise for the lenght of this post, but I really do feel it’s important that parents research this vaccine thoroughly before consenting to it because it has the potential to do some real damage and there is absolutely no help or support if your child is damaged.

    The site I would recommend visiting for information is http://www.sanevax.org This group deals with scientists who are working to highlight concerns, so their information is factual and from reputable sources.

    If you’ve read this far – thank you for your time xx

    • Mum Reinvented
      October 21, 2014 / 2:21 pm

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Caron. You’ve captured everything anyone could ever need to know about the side effects of this vaccine in one place. I’m so sorry your daughter has been through so much following these injections, reading what you have all been through is heartbreaking x

      • Caron Ryalls
        October 21, 2014 / 3:56 pm

        Thank you, but unfortunately, despite my lengthy ramblings, I’ve barely scratched the surface of what parents need to know before consenting to this vaccination, I just hope it’s helped to ensure parents will look beyond the assurances an misinformation given out by the vaccine manufacturers and departments of health. x

  13. October 22, 2014 / 10:10 pm

    As the comments above, I’d need to read a lot more to decide on this, thanks for such a thought provoking post and linking up x

  14. October 25, 2014 / 4:22 pm

    Oh good gracious, I’m like you and had literally no idea there was bad press or anything to worry about. I think I just sort of trust the NHS when they say ‘your daughter needs this’ and just let her have it. She had it about a year ago and no ill side effects (thank God) but I feel a bit guilty that I gave it absolutely no thought. I’m so sorry to the people who’s daughters have become ill from this. Thanks for posting x

    • Mum Reinvented
      October 27, 2014 / 9:25 am

      Glad your daughter was ok after having it. The side effects can be horrific but clearly most girls are fine after they have it. I’m still torn over what to do for the best for my daughter, but luckily I have the luxury of time to decide. x

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