Gardasil, the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) list of recommended inoculations for teenagers, has been the subject of debate worldwide since it was fast-tracked for approval in the US in 2006. The Merck-manufactured drug was developed to prevent infections caused by HPV, which is a group of 150 related viruses -- 15 of which are linked to cervical cancer. At the heart of the controversies are questions around the need for the vaccine, the efficacy of the vaccine and the fast-growing number of reports of severe reactions to the vaccine. The latter question has moved to the forefront of the debate as safety testing concerns have been raised and the number of vaccine-injured children has grown.
In 1996, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) added many vaccines to its list of recommended inoculations for teenagers. Objections and unanswered questions that have followed incidences of vaccine injuries - particularly those caused by the HPV vaccine, which have been the subject of intense debate worldwide -- highlight the need for awareness among parents about vaccine ingredients and their adverse effects. Although ingredients are listed in the drug inserts, very few parents carefully read through them and doctors rarely spell out a vaccine’s potential side effects before administering the dose. Hence, maintaining personal immunization records for children, from birth through adulthood, is vital for a number of reasons.
Aluminum is neurotoxic, but the average consumer might be forgiven for not knowing about the metal’s health dangers. This is because mainstream websites routinely dismiss questions about whether aluminum is a risk factor for neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), labeling aluminum’s possible role as either “controversial” or a “myth” without scientific merit. The not-for-profit Alzheimer’s Association, for example, asserts that “studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s.”
In most cases, drugs are rigorously safety tested, not only to find any potential negative side effects, but also to address any interactions the drug may have with other medications if taken concurrently. Pharmaceutical companies are incentivized to do this. If drugs are inadequately tested or the side effects are too harsh, they can be taken off the market by the FDA. The need to test drugs and put out the best possible product with the fewest possible side effects is further bolstered by healthy competition. This competition results in the availability of multiple kinds of drugs to treat any given condition, essential to customers who may have adverse reactions to certain chemical compounds or ingredients.
Pharma companies and the media are not kind to those who publicly question the use of vaccines and the practices of their manufactures. Often people are either pounced on by the media, made to look paranoid or crazy, or unceremoniously and unsympathetically dismissed. However, this should not dissuade questioners from making their inquiries public. There are many good reasons why questions should be asked.
Two important FDA approved changes to the warning label of Merck Pharmaceutical’s shingles vaccine, Zostavax, have been made since the controversial drug was introduced in 2006. The first was in August 2014, when, in addition to potentially causing chickenpox, another side effect was added: shingles! That’s right. The vaccine that had been – and continues to be -- aggressively marketed to prevent seniors from contracting this excruciating condition was found to actually cause shingles in some individuals.
Health authorities and the media relentlessly repeat the mantra that vaccines are unequivocally safe, and many uninformed consumers cling to this mantra like a lifeboat. More often than not, however, consumers know little or nothing about the vaccine safety testing process and assume that vaccine manufacturers and regulatory institutions have exercised due diligence in ensuring that vaccines are as safe as possible.
“I regret that my co-authors and I omitted statistically significant information suggesting that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.”