Conversation with a ‘Gardasil Girl’

Gaps in knowledge about Gardasil effects on special populations continue to dog national immunization programs.

Flesh and Stone

by Kathlyn Stone

May 22, 2010

Naomi Snell of Melbourne, Australia, had just turned 25 and was a full-time graduate student in journalism, had a job and was running 5 kilometers a day at the time she completed a three-course vaccination of Gardasil in January of 2008. The vaccine is recommended by public health officials in numerous countries for the prevention of human papillomavirus (HPV) which may develop into cervical cancer.

Snell said she felt ill after her first doses but didn’t connect her illness with the vaccine so she completed the three-dose regimen.

Within weeks of the last dose she had pain and joint inflammation throughout her body. Soon she began losing her balance, had severe seizures and was unable to walk. She was seen by a rheumatologist because her blood tests indicated an auto immune reaction and was eventually referred to a neurologist, who is still treating her. An MRI of her brain revealed demyelination, similar to that associated with multiple sclerosis.

She attributes all of her symptoms to the vaccine. After becoming ill she learned that scores of others have had a bad, and in rare cases, a deadly, reaction to the vaccine. Snell made a video of her experience and co-created a Facebook support page for those who believe they were sickened by the vaccine.

“Since having the vaccine and falling ill I have been forced to defer my full time study in a post graduate journalism degree program. I have also been unable to work full time and have had to take extended periods of unpaid sick leave from my administration job.

“I feel as though I am very slowly getting stronger,” says Snell. “However, it is unlikely that I will ever fully recover. Before the vaccine I was running 5kms a day. My writing has also deteriorated since the vaccine.”

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.