June 12, 2009
Gardasil, the vaccine given to girls and women to prevent cervical cancer, may cause an increased risk of a rare but severe nervous system disorder within weeks of getting the shot, new research finds.
In the two to six weeks after receiving an injection of Gardasil, females are more likely to contract Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a potentially deadly condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system, said researchers from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark.
Generally, an infection such as influenza or another illness triggers GBS, but in some cases, the disorder may be activated by vaccinations, such as Gardasil, or by surgery, officials said. Symptoms of GBS can include weakness, paralysis, balance problems, and numbness and tingling of the limbs.
However, the risk of developing GBS from Gardasil is rare. Only 26 women out of 10 million who receive the shot will develop GBS in the first two weeks after treatment, while just 30 out of 10 million will do so after six weeks, researchers said. By comparison, about five in 10 million people in the general population will develop GBS.
So, while the research found that women who receive Gardasil are up to six times more likely to contract GBS than people in the general population within six weeks of the treatment, the overall risk remains very low. It also remains unclear exactly why Gardasil vaccine appears to increase the odds of developing GBS, researchers said.
The research findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.
Controversy Over Gardasil
Gardasil has been the subject of controversy since 2006, when it was approved for use in the United States. In January 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added Gardasil to its list of recommended childhood immunizations. The vaccine was recommended for all girls aged 11-12 and even for girls as young as 9, with catch-up doses for girls and women 13-26 who hadn’t been vaccinated earlier. Some critics have said that giving the vaccine to girls as young as nine suggests that the girls are sexually active and is not appropriate.
Comment from Leslie
Finally – the word is spreading about the dangers of this vaccine – hopefully, now the “one less”, will become “one more” healthy adolescent girl.