August 26, 2013. Tokyo. A group of crippled Japanese teenagers and their parents met with the nation’s Health Minister Friday in a very public event. Officials had already ordered health agencies to stop recommending cervical cancer vaccines. Now the group is asking the Japanese government to stop funding free HPV vaccination programs. The paralyzed teens also called on other victims to come forward.
Diagnosis rate by age. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Vaccines are a fiercely and passionately debated subject these days with helpless children and billions in corporate profits at stake. That’s why the eyes of the world were drawn to Japan on Friday when a group of eight crippled teens and their parents publically came forward to insist their children’s sudden and mysterious paralysis was caused by cervical cancer vaccines.
Victims and accusations
The eight paralyzed Japanese girls ranged in age from 14 to 18 and each suffers from physical side effects to one extent or another. They and their parents insist the sudden and crippling symptoms were caused by HPV and cervical cancer vaccines. They want the Japanese government to stop funding their distribution and use.
The group presented the Health Minister with petitions calling on the government to take a number of steps to protect the nation’s young girls. Those requests include ending the cervical cancer vaccine program to researching the causes and links between the vaccines and the victims. They’re also asking health officials to find a treatment for those victims like themselves already suffering from recurring seizures, paralysis, and a host of other crippling side effects.
“There is not a single moment when I am not suffering pain,” one of the 17-year-old victims told the gathered press, “And I want the government to find a remedy. I do not want the government to resume recommending this vaccine.”
As detailed by Japan Times, another wheelchair-bound victim also addressed the media after the meeting with Japanese Health officials. The 16-year-old girl couldn’t stop her hands and legs from convulsing as she remarked, “There must be numerous girls who are suffering symptoms similar to mine without knowing their conditions stem from the vaccines. I took this action because I want those girls to become aware of the link.”
Vaccine policy changes
With multi-national corporations pushing their use, and crippled teens increasingly coming forward, Japanese officials have found themselves in the middle of a health safety nightmare. As recently as April of this year, the government health ministry announced it would begin subsidizing drug makers and healthcare companies for providing the cervical cancer vaccines for free. But just two months later, an official government advisory panel recommended the program stop.
In fact, the agency recommended the Japanese government stop telling citizens to get either of the two available cervical cancer vaccines all together because of their apparent link to serious side effects. Days later, the Japanese Health Ministry complied and ordered all local health departments to stop recommending the vaccine to teen and pre-teen girls due to the chronic adverse reactions being reported. The most commonly noted symptoms include severe body aches, headaches, convulsions, seizures, and in extreme cases, even death.
The Japanese Health Minister was reported after the meeting to have admitted the government is aware of the problem and is committed to finding out just how widespread the problem is. “I am aware of the necessity to create a team to study this problem and gather information on the actual state of damage that has been inflicted nationwide,” Health Minister Norihisa Tamura reportedly told a local government official immediately after the meeting with the girls.
Gardasil and Cervarix
The two vaccines at the center of the controversy are Gardasil and Cervarix, products of two of the most powerful drug companies in the world. Gardasil is made by Merck, while Cervarix is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. The vaccine requires three injections over six months and is marketed to girls age 9 to 26.
One website, TruthAboutGardasil.org, has been reporting on the two vaccines for the last four years. They quote Merck’s Gardasil disclaimer which lists the possible side effects of the vaccine including, ‘pain, swelling, itching, bruising and redness at the injection site; headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting and fainting. Sometimes fainting is accompanied by falling with injury, as well as shaking or stiffening and other seizure-like activity.’
The watchdog goes one step further however, researching the volume and severity of the reported side effects. Their 2009 report details, ‘Since the drug’s introduction in 2006, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System has received more than 18,000 reports of adverse side effects related to Gardasil. These reports include serious adverse effects including Guilliane Barre, lupus, seizures, paralysis, blood clots, brain inflammation, severe fatigue and weakness, heart problems, shortness of breath, chest pains and many more.’
Breaking the numbers down by vaccine over the three-year period, Gardasil was reportedly linked to at least 73 deaths and 18,000 adverse reactions. While Cervarix was linked to at least 3 deaths and 9,000 cases of adverse reactions.
A number of cervical cancer victims have taken issue with the outcry and hype over the vaccines’ dangers. As is the typical argument with vaccines, they insist the benefits out-way the dangers. “Ask anyone of the 11,000 that were diagnosed with cancer, they would jump at the chance to have been able to receive a Gardasil vaccine. I know, as I am one,” said a cancer victim named Karla, “If you think reactions to a vaccine is bad, try having your daughter go through cancer.”
It would seem most teens and parents are stuck in the middle, not sure who or what to believe. One parent named Cheryl expressed the same fear and concern many unsure parents are most-likely going through. “My daughter who just turned 14 got the shot last week. Since then, she has had these symptoms off and on every day: Dizziness, tingling in her face and hands, headaches, blurry vision, weakness, shaking, and fatigue. My daughter plays school basketball and is a football cheerleader for her school. She almost fainted at the football game this weekend and has been unable to practice or play because she has had dizzy episodes where she could not walk and had blurry vision. She has never had any of these problems before she got this shot and is a very active and athletic child.”
Many doctors and experts, including the cervical cancer vaccines’ co-creator, are reportedly telling young girls and their parents that the vaccine isn’t necessary. According to TruthAboutGardasil.org, Dr. Diane Harper of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at the University of Missouri was one of the lead researchers in the development of cervical cancer vaccines. She is credited with giving an October 25, 2009 speech in which she warns that Gardasil isn’t necessary, and even more ominous, has never been fully tested on girls under age 15.
With advertising and marketing budgets of tens of millions of dollars, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline are fighting the accusations against their respective vaccines. But they may have met their match in the form of eight paralyzed teenage girls from Japan.
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