Friday, August 31, 2007

Gambling with our daughters' health

Complications arise from HPV vaccine

In their rush to try to vaccinate every underage girl against a disease only the sexually active risk contracting, the Nanny State has gambled with our daughters' health -- and the girls lost:

As of May 31, 2007, there have been 13 cases of Guillain Barr's syndrome (GBS) in association with the HPV vaccine (Gardasil) reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a serious disorder that occurs when the body's defense (immune) system mistakenly attacks part of the nervous system. This leads to nerve inflammation which continues to get worse.


According to an NVIC press release, one of the patients who reported a reaction to VAERS was an 18-year-old athlete who ran six miles that day before receiving Gardasil, Menactra, and Varivax on the same day. She was hospitalized for 22 days with weakness of all limbs but did not require a ventilator. Now receiving physical therapy, she hopes at least to be able to play the guitar, draw, and smile again.

Those who support and want the vaccine are welcome to it, but they have no right to jeopardize the lives and health of other people's daughters.


Alexandra said...

Do you know approximately how many people get Guillain-Barre syndrome from vaccines overall? I've never heard of it specifically but I have heard of people having negative reactions to vaccines; I would be interested to know whether Guillain-Barre has more to do with a vaccine or the person receiving it.

I don't plan on getting the HPV vaccine, because I'm always wary of being one of the first to try things like that. I'll get Lasik in like 20 years, once I know for sure that everybody who's getting it now doesn't inexplicably go blind at the ten-year mark or something. ;)

Also, I've always been concerned about over-medicating and over-vaccinating, and I don't think my personal risk of HPV is high enough to outweight any hypothetical risks the vaccine might end up having. I've been with one man for years and I plan on being with him for years more, so I either have HPV already or have a very low risk of contracting it in the future (infidelity, rape). If I were to have kids, then they'd hit puberty at a point where longer-term studies on Gardasil could have been done, and if there were no problems with it I'd have them get it.

L. said...

I have a 10-year old daughter, so I'm now weighing whether to opt for Gardasil or not (she goes to Catholic school, so it is highly unlikely it will ever be "required" for her).

I have read that many, many cases of Guillain Barr syndrome have been attributed to flu shots -- and yet I try to get all of my kids flu shots every year, because protecting against the rare possibility of fatal flu complications seem to ouweigh the risk of Guillain Barr. (We do know a little boy who died of encephalitis after contracting an ordinary, run-of-the-mill virus, so we might be leaning to the side of disease protection for emotional reasons, since it's hard to find good stats.)

I can teach my daughter how to avoid contracting HPV -- but I am not raising my future son-in-law. Who knows? I have very limited control over whom my daughter will pick as sexual partners over her lifetime, once she leaves my house.

So I've been watching the Gardisil debate closely. Our pediatrician advised us to hold off a while.

Christina Dunigan said...

You're spot-on, L, in that vaccinations are something that parents need to be making decisions on for their children, one vaccination at a time, with their full information about risks and benefits.

The only time it's appropriate to have mandatory mass vaccinations is when there's an epidemic, as there was with polio and smallpox.

I think that part of what happens is that the people who develop the vaccines, and the people in public health positions, get a head rush about the idea of wiping out a disease, and they don't spend enough time thinking about whether the benefits outweigh the costs, because they're in "wipe out disease" mode. But where polio and smallpox were worth wiping out, can we really say the same for, say, chicken pox? That's a mild disease that rarely has severe consequences, and then typically for a specific group of patients. Mass vaccination makes no sense, because the vaccination campaign can likely cause more damage than the disease itself.

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