As the U.S. court of Federal Claims reviews the case of the sisters Madelyne Meylor and Olivia Meylor against the drug Gardisil, an age old debate about the safety of vaccinations rages on. The sisters claim that the use of the vaccination had resulted in their developing premature menopause and possible infertility. For these young women (Madelyne is 20 years old and Olivia 19 years old) the idea of not being able to one day have the families they may have wished for is probably devastating. There is no question that the case of the Meylor sisters has struck a chord with many concerned parents. But the real question is whether or not the sister’s accusations are real. Many scientists and doctors do not believe that the Meyor’s claims are plausible.
Vaccinations are biological substitutes of a disease. They prevent disease by acting like the disease, causing the body to create immunity without the subject actually getting infected. Vaccinations are coated with the causative agent of the disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute. They do not contain any hormones, or substance which may be culpable for the Meyor’s symptoms.
Gardisil is one of the two vaccinations developed to prevent the Sexually transmitted disease, HPV. HPV is a highly contagious and asymptomatic STD which causes genital warts, cervical cancer, and mouth and throat cancer. The estimated number of Americans with HPV is 79 million; unfortunately, there is no definite means of testing individuals for the disease. When the Gardisil vaccine was introduced in 2006 there were mixed reactions and much debate. Doctors and scientists hailed the vaccine as a credible means of preventing the disease. On the other side of the debate were parents who voiced concern about the safety and efficiency of the vaccine. Their concerns, however, were not new but have existed throughout the history of public immunizations.
The Meylor’s case has given those who opposed the use of Gardisil a new reason to call for the termination of any further use of the vaccine. In the past public outcries have resulted in decrease in the use of a vaccine. Unfortunately for today’s immunization critics, history has shown that a cutback in immunization levels in different countries around the world has led to immediate epidemics. An example is the 1974 drop in Pertusis vaccination in Great Britain, which led to 100,000 more cases of the disease, and 36 deaths. Those against Gardisil quote statistics which state that the vaccine has caused more than a hundred deaths and caused injuries in thousands. However, a closer look at those statics shows that there are few, if not any, direct links between Gardisil and the deaths and injuries. A large percentage of those deaths and injuries were caused by either non-health related injuries, or diseases which have no connection to Gardisil or HPV.
Immunization advocates do not deny the fact that vaccinations, like other medications do have adverse side effects. But their opinion is that these side effects do not outweigh the benefits of preventing thousands of people from developing life threatening diseases. According to the CDC, the most severe documented side effects of Gardisil are severe stomach pain, swollen glands, easy bruising or bleeding, confusion, unusual weakness, fever, chills, body aches, general ill feeling, chest pain, and feeling short of breath. There are no recorded cases similar to the Meyor’s.
By Earnestine Jones