Marketing to Teens — Better Evaluation and Education Suggested
Jessie was a healthy 17-year-old who loved cheerleading and playing softball. Two days after receiving her third Gardasil vaccination, Jessie unexpectedly passed away.
HPV vaccines, such as Gardasil, which are manufactured by Merck Sharp & Dohme Co., have been aggressively marketed to young girls in their early teens as well as their parents. Gardasil has been marketed as protecting against four types of HPV, two of which may lead to cervical cancer. However, these two types of HPV are only present in 3.2% of cases. In fact, Gardasil has been associated with at least as many serious adverse events as there are deaths from cervical cancer annually. Some doctors are also concerned that women will discontinue annual pap smears because they think they are protected from HPV.
As of February 14, 2011, approximately 33 million Gardasil vaccinations were administered in the United States. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) has received a total of 18,354 reports of adverse events following the administration of Gardasil vaccines. Still, the Center for Disease Control recommends HPB vaccinations for the prevention of cervical cancer.
Serious side effects associated with the vaccine include multiple sclerosis, blindness, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which is a rare neurologic disorder that causes muscle weakness, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, paralysis, blood clots, and death.
Dr. Diane Harper, a researcher who served as a consultant for Merck and helped carry out safety and effectiveness studies in order to get Gardasil approved, stated that girls and their parents need to receive more information and better warnings before opting for the vaccine.
Scientific data has shown that the vaccine may only last up to five years. However, the vaccine is offered to girls as young as 11. These girls are put at risk for serious side effects of the vaccine, but may only be protected by the vaccine until age 16.
Websites, such as Truth about Gardasil, are dedicated to warning about the adverse side effects associated with Gardasil and detailing the stories of victims like Jessie.