Viral Messaging and the HPV-Vaccine, Gardasil

Social Media is Changing The Gardasil Debate

Like so many other women in this country, I usually start or end my day reviewing the comments on my social networking accounts. As an early critic of Gardasil, I closely follow the Yahoo Group ‘Lets_Talk_about_Gardasil’. The folks in this group, and others like it, are dedicated moms, health care activists, medical professionals, and anyone else who is looking for answers about what has, or could, happen to the young women who receive the Gardasil shot.

Reading the messages from this group brings a very personal perspective to an unfolding national tragedy. I, and several hundred other Bloggers have been tracking the twists and turns of Merck’s rush to profit. Some of us focus on the personal stories of the women and girls struggling with the reality of the relatively benign term “Adverse Effect.” Some Bloggers are following the science of the vaccine, how it is made, and what chemical components could be causing these adverse effects. Some of us are following the murky trail of power, influence and the corruption of the drug approval process in America.

All of us are sharing information.

We email, text, tweet, start online discussion groups, and message on social networking sites.

We are phone-tree moms in the age of Internet-enabled, global communication systems. We have, and continue to use that online community to get and share our research, our stories, our pain. Our keyboards and video cameras have become our coffee klatch. We are organizing, petitioning, and lobbing. We are holding politicians and government regulators responsible for both sins of omission and commission. We are contacting the CDC “in numbers to big to ignore” and demanding a more proactive policy to protect our girls from Merck’s rapacious profit machine. We moms are using social media not only to get out a, “proceed with caution, if at all” message; we are firing up the traditional media, which unfortunately, has gotten into the habit of printing or repeating the Pharma-party-line, press releases verbatim. We are contributing to non-profit groups that are using the freedom of information act to get clinical trial and other Gardasil development information out in the open. As one lawmaker said years ago, “Sunshine is a great disinfectant to cure opportunistic corruption.”

This morning I read the request posted below on ‘Lets_Talk_about_Gardasil’.

A mom read a one-sided, pro-Gardasil story in Family Circle. She asked other moms and concerned individuals to write to the magazine’s letters to the editor section to speak to the other side of Gardasil, the one not discussed in the Merck PR-driven article.

As I forwarded the post to other women I knew, and started to post it to my Blog, I thought about how frustrating the world of social media must be for Merck. How they must long for the “good ol’ days, before social media and universal Internet access. Back then, those who suffered from bad science and a good  marketing campaign, thought they were alone. The average mom did not have the research tools to find the resources and support she needed.

Even 10-years ago we could not have interacted with women in Australia, Scotland, Canada Germany and Holland in a real time, Skype discussion about what was happening to our girls; sharing symptoms, hormone cycle information, treatment protocols, or too often, offer condolences for ‘One More’ girl’s light forever extinguished.

The Following is a message from a Gardasil mom

To: Lets_Talk_about_ Gardasil@ yahoogroups. com
Date: Tuesday, April 28, 2009, 4:27 PM

Just read article in May 2009 Family Circle Giant Issue on Gardasil. There is so much more positive out there than negative. Politics. The one with the more money will be the one to get the attention of the media and so far it looks as though Merck is winning. Even had a snippet in the article about the 11916 adverse reactions of which 94% were considered “non-serious” and 6% were serious which included the 32 deaths. Anyway just thought I’d mention this in case someone else felt like reading it and sending in a letter to the editor.

Just so you know how high the stakes are for Merck’s Message Machine, look at the numbers of women who will be influenced by a favorable review of Gardasil from a trusted source.

Family Circle is an American women’s magazine published 15 times a year by Meredith Corporation. It is, by many accounts, the best-selling women’s magazine in America, with more than 4,000,000 subscribers and an advertising “reach” of roughly 20,000,000(it is a doctor’s office staple).
The magazine is considered one of the “seven sisters,” a group of seven women-oriented magazines, with the others being Ladies’ Home Journal, McCall’s, Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Gardens, Woman’s Day, and Redbook.

If you read this and you care about the Gardasil girls and their moms, flex your fingers, power-up the keyboard and get your message out to the Meredith Corporation about the other side of the Gardasil story.

Meredith Corporate and Publishing Headquarters
1716 Locust Street
Des Moines, IA 50309-3023

Meredith Corporation, Editorial Offices
125 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017-5529

Pass it on.

Please feel free to pass this blog on. Use it in your blogs, newsletters and any other way you can think of to help move the side effects of Garasil into the national discussion.

All I ask is the By-line and a link back to my Inconvenient Woman Blog at



Author: H. Sandra Chevalier-Batik

I started the Inconvenient Woman Blog in 2007, and am the product of a long line of inconvenient women. The matriarchal line is French-Canadian, Roman Catholic, with a very feisty Irish great-grandmother thrown in for sheer bloody mindedness. I am a research analyst and author who has made her living studying technical data, and developing articles, training materials, books and web content. Tracking through statistical data, and oblique cross-references to find the relevant connections that identifies a problem, or explains a path of action, is my passion. I love clearly delineating the magic questions of knowledge: Who, What, Why, When, Where and for How Much, Paid to Whom. My life lessons: listen carefully, question with boldness, and personally verify the answers. I look at America through the appreciative eyes of an immigrant, and an amateur historian; the popular and political culture is a ceaseless fascination. I have no impressive initials after my name. I’m merely an observer and a chronicler, an inconvenient woman who asks questions, and sometimes encourages others to look at things differently.