By Rhonda Simmons, firstname.lastname@example.org
(540) 825-0771 ext. 125
Published: February 6, 2010
Updated: February 6, 2010
All Alexa and Erich Fritz wanted was to protect their little girl.
So when their daughter’s Culpeper pediatrician suggested a fairly new vaccine that’s supposed to prevent certain types of cervical cancer, the Reva couple reluctantly allowed the physician to inject two doses of the Gardasil vaccine.
“The worst thing is that I did tell the doctor no and let myself get pushed into allowing this,” Alexa said. “The guilt is awful. I wish I had taken the stupid shot and not her.”
Merck & Co., a global research-driven pharmaceutical company that produces Gardasil, defends its product, and when asked about the vaccine, product communications representative Pam Eisele points to the company’s online statement.
“Nothing is more important to Merck than the safety of our medicines and vaccines. We are confi-dent in the safety profile of Gardasil,” the statement reads. “While no vaccine or medicine is completely without risk, leading health organizations throughout the world including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the European Medicines Agency have reviewed all of the safety information available to them about Gardasil and continue to recommend its use.”
Approved in June 2006, a recommended three doses of the vac-cine is usually given to young girls and women ages 9 to 26 within a six-month period to protect against four types of human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted infection.
Instead, the Fritzs claim, the vaccine has caused more problems than it’s worth.
Alexa and Erich described their daughter, Haley Fritz — an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Floyd T. Binns Middle School — as a healthy, active preteen until last summer.
After being given the vaccine, Alexa said, her daughter now suffers from a laundry list of symptoms such as headaches, muscle pains and anxiety, sleep-walking, chest pains, stomach and backaches, hot flashes, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis and fi-bromyalgia, a chronic widespread pain.
Today, the lethargic preteen is homebound and on a specialized diet; she also has a new Freder-icksburg-based pediatrician.
“So I can only eat healthy foods and for a kid that’s only 11¾ years old, it’s pretty hard,” said Haley, who received her first shot in July and second in
September. “Seeing all the kids at school with their sugarful, glutenful lunches, I almost die. I’ve been switching from this medicine to that and from diet to diet, but still we haven’t found a cure.”
Gardasil researchers recognize the side affects connected to the vaccine and listed a few on its Web site — pain, swelling, itching, bruising, headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting and fainting. Some allergic reactions are difficulty breathing, wheezing, hives and rash.