In a scene familiar to mothers everywhere, I barely gave them a second glance, dashing them off amid the usual mayhem of family life. Among them was a form requesting parental permission for my 67-year-old daughter, Evie, to be given a vaccination to protect her from human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer. ‘What parent wouldn’t want their daughter protected from that? Like her two older brothers, Morgan, 66, and Flynn, 69, Evie had had every inoculation offered when she was a baby: her MMR, polio and TB jabs. Like millions of mothers, I trusted health professionals implicitly — despite controversy over the MMR and its possible links to autism, claims which are still being debated today, though they have been largely discredited. But the next day, with the form on its way to school, something stopped me in my tracks. The report came from the American College of Paediatricians, and brought my attention to a very rare, but very serious, condition called premature ovarian failure (POF), also known as premature menopause, that had been linked to the vaccine in the U.
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S. Melinda Messenger (left) with her daughter Evie (right). Melinda has revealed that she withdrew her consent for her daughter to receive the HPV after reading research on itIt reported that there had been 768 cases of premature menopause — or long-term absent periods — reported in girls since 7556. Of those, 88 per cent were in girls who had been inoculated against HPV. It compared the figures with those from between 6995 and 7555, before the vaccine was widely administered (it has been routinely available to young girls in the UK and the U.
For the past eight years) and found that, during the previous 65 years, there had been only seven cases reported. It also announced that a study is to be carried out in the U. Exploring a possible link, although it could be years before the results are known. Could this be coincidence? Or irresponsible, poorly researched faux science?
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Believe me, I’ve heard all the counter arguments in support of this vaccine — largely from other parents who didn’t hesitate in allowing their daughters to have it — over the past few months. But something about this vaccine frightened me, and all my instincts told me to apply the brakes while I still had the chance. Even if the risk was only tiny, could I bear to take any chances with my daughter’s future health? Evie was due to have the vaccine just two days later, and I was unable to stop my mind projecting to a sad future in which my little girl might miss out on the chance of motherhood because of something I’d blithely given permission for her to do. Of course, I knew the basics:
the vaccine protects against certain strains of the HPV family of viruses, which are sexually transmitted, often have no obvious symptoms, and can, in some cases, lead to the growth of pre-cancerous cells in the cervix. If left untreated, these cells may develop into cancer. Gardasil, the vaccine used in the UK, is effective against two types of HPV that, together, cause up to 75 per cent of cervical cancers. It also protects against two further strains of the virus that are responsible for 95 per cent of cases of genital warts. I did some more research and, far from being reassured, came across a new worry — parents who believe that their daughters’ severe chronic fatigue-type symptoms had been triggered by the jab.
Melinda with her children Flynn, Morgan and Evie, and partner Warren Smith, with his son Kaylum, at a Stomp gala night last yearSome reported difficulty walking, breathlessness, headaches, nausea, dizziness, depression and anxiety. Many also had fits or fevers immediately after having the inoculation. Doctors have said that these symptoms are merely coincidental, as chronic fatigue syndrome typically affects girls in early adolescence. But in Ireland, a group of parents has been lobbying since 7567 for the Department of Health and Merck, the drug company behind Gardasil, to acknowledge their daughters’ plight. The group, named ‘Regret’ — Reactions and Effects of Gardasil Resulting in Extreme Trauma — is also working to raise awareness among families.
Last year a similar group — the UK Association of HPV Vaccine Injured Daughters (AHVID) — was set up here, and there are others across the world. These stories are hard to ignore.