Parents, Teens Question Safety of HPV Vaccine

Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

Updated 11:35 PM CDT, Mon, May 24, 2010

She was only 18 years old, but Ainsley Bailey suddenly found herself struggling just to get out of bed.

The Plano teenager said her medical troubles started the day after she received a first dose of Gardasil, the human papillomavirus vaccine designed to prevent cervical cancer.

“It got to the point where I couldn’t walk without screaming, the pain in my legs was so bad,” said Bailey.

Ainsley’s mom, Gaynell Bailey, started keeping a daily journal documenting her daughter’s symptoms, including abdominal pain, muscle pain, chest pain and chronic fatigue. There’s no scientific evidence the vaccine caused her symptoms, but the Baileys believe there has to be a connection.

“The reason I’m convinced is, I had a healthy daughter and the very next day, she started reacting,” said Gaynell Bailey.

The family started searching for answers online and found other families with similar stories, such as John and Susan Flood, who live in Colleyville. Their daughter, Allison, was a college cross-country runner who suddenly got sick.

“She looked like she had gained 30 pounds, with face and body swelling,” said John Flood.

Allison Flood complained of heart palpitations, had sudden food allergies and even had unusual blood clotting. Medical tests have been unable to prove a connection to Gardasil. But the Floods said their daughter’s troubles started shortly after she received the second dose of the three-dose course of vaccine.

“This is a kid who would go out a year and a half ago and run eight to 10 miles a day and was perfectly healthy,” said John Flood.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 28 million doses of Gardasil have been distributed in the United States. And the vaccine is widely recommended by pediatricians.

Dr. Marjorie Milici, a pediatrician at Baylor Medical Center, has been giving it to patients for nearly four years, and said she’s never seen anything but mild, temporary reactions such as pain at the injection site or fainting.

“I have not had anybody come back with any kind of immune problem or telling me something changed after they got the shot they didn’t feel well,”  said Milici.

Milici has given the shot to one of her daughters and plans to have her other two daughters vaccinated when they are older.

In a statement, the vaccine maker, Merck, said, “We are confident in the safety profile of Gardasil.”



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.