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Holly Lambert

SOC212 Sec. 10495

Opposing Viewpoints Paper
17 July 2014
HPV Vaccine: Beneficial or Harmful?
2A. Social Issue Research
In recent years, vaccines and drugs have been developed to prevent sexually transmitted
diseases like genital warts, or human papillomavirus (HPV). There is currently one FDA and
CDC-approved vaccine that is widely used in adolescents ages 11-12 called Gardasil (Merck).
Gardasil has obtained worldwide publicity for being the only approved HPV vaccine, but also
because it has potential to cause serious side effects and harm to the patient. According to
Gardasil, the vaccine helps protect against 2 types of HPV that cause about 75% of cervical
cancer cases, and 2 more types that cause about 90% of genital warts cases and in boys and
young men ages 9 to 26, GARDASIL helps protect against approximately 90% of genital warts
cases (Merck). Gardasil has been criticized since its FDA approval in 2006 for aggressive
marketing and attempts to make HPV vaccinations mandatory by law, as well as causing severe
issues like autoimmune complications and miscarriage.
The Federal Drug Administration approved Gardasil vaccine in 2006 for use in females
and males ages 9 to 26 for prevention against cervical cancer, genital warts, and anal cancer,
among other associated illnesses (FDA). According to producer Mercolas website, 213 women
suffered from severe complications such as paralysis, multiple sclerosis-like symptoms,
spontaneous abortion, and degenerative muscular diseases (Mercola). Mercola and Merck have
also been under scrutiny after a 2013 voluntary recall of 743,360 vials of Gardasil that were
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possibly contaminated with glass particles (Fox News). The glass particles were small enough to
slide through the needle and caused mild reactions like swelling, redness and itching of the
injection site in some patients, but were not fatal. One parent, Deanna Spry, voiced her opinion
on Foxs story online: This vaccine reportedly causes some girls to become infertile. No thanks,
I'll pass. I rather teach my daughters how to pick a nice clean boy (no male wh*re) and use a
condom (Fox News). Many patients reported feelings faint immediately after the injection and
soreness of the area, but did not have many symptoms.
A troubling article written by Dr. Mercola surfaced in July 2013, entitled Oncology
Dietitian Exposes Fraud in CDCs HPV Vaccine Effectiveness Study, in which the doctor
himself exposes major flaws in the CDCs testing of Gardasil effectiveness. The article assesses
the total number of teens studied in the trial versus the number of those who were at risk for
HPV by being sexually active. Of the 740 teens that were studied, only 358 were sexually active,
putting them at risk for contracting HPV and allowing the vaccine to work at full potential. Out
of the 358 sexually active teens, there were 111 that only received one dose of the vaccine,
causing it to not reach full effectiveness and prevention prospective. Hence, the drugs were never
tested to their maximum potential and were released and recommended to the public in 2006. Dr.
Mercola also discusses the risk factors for cancer and other complications, notably sudden death,
stating that Gardasil increases risk of cervical cancer, as well as increasing risk of precancerous
lesions by 44.6% (Mercola). Since Gardasil was released and subsequently reviewed, it has not
yet been proven effective in clinical trials.
Another reason for questioning the Gardasil product arose after studies were completed
on the vaccine and found possible harmful side effects, but some states were already in the
process of making Gardasil a mandatory vaccine for all adolescents ages 11 and 12. Rick Perry
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was chastised after campaigning in 2007 to make Gardasil a requirement for children in Texas,
and recalled his request after doing research on the vaccine. It was later discovered that Merck
had given a significant amount of funding to Perrys campaign, and also provided political
support (Edwards). Perry said that at the time, he was simply trying to save human lives;
although Gardasil has been proven to save lives, Perrys decision met opposition from parents
who elected not to vaccinate their children.
Lawmakers in Michigan who proposed that the vaccine be mandated were met with
similar opinions, particularly those of religious conservatives who thought mandating the HPV
vaccine would undermine abstinence-based teaching methods. Dr. Colgrove points out that there
is also a growing trend linking vaccines to diseases like autism, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.
Ideas of only vaccinating those who are susceptible to HPV should be vaccinated have surfaced,
however, only vaccinating a portion of the population has been proven ineffective for reducing
incidence rates (Colgrove). Childhood vaccinations are becoming increasingly common, and
mandating patient vaccination with particular drugs retracts parental autonomy, which sparks
outrage amongst parents.
One thought-provoking Gardasil supporting article analyzes the benefits of HPV
vaccinations in society as a whole, and specifically mentions the bisexual and gay men that
would benefit from the vaccination. According to CBS News, more than 60% of men without
HIV and 90% of men with HIV who have sex with men are infected with HPV in their anal
canals, and about 5,000 cases of HPV-initiated cancer arise each year. The news article adds
that HPV does not only cause cervical cancer, but is also related the head, neck, and penile
cancers. Although the vaccine costs a reported $300 per boy (three doses), it may be worth the
monetary cost to suspend or eradicate the HPV epidemic among Americans (Edwards). The issue
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of sexism in the medical industry is approached, addressing the egotistical issue that may arise in
boys and men who receive the vaccine originally intended for women. Some consider it unfair
for women to be encouraged or required to receive a vaccine with serious potential health risks
while men are not required to risk their wellbeing to avoid HPV. However, emotional elements
aside, Edwards did not delve into the issues in women caused by Gardasil, which might have
influenced his opinion on the vaccine.
Since adolescents age 9 to 26 are the CDCs target for Gardasil prescription, parents are
often forced to decide whether they want to vaccinate their child for HPV. The two main
arguments against vaccination are the possible harmful side effects and the ethical issue of
deterring children from practicing abstinence. In 2013, The Resistance group posted an article
titled US vaccine court pays $6 million to Gardasil victims, most claims not settled yet that
surely put fear into some parents hearts by recounting the number of people who filed claims
with the government and have not yet been addressed. There are currently 92 of 200 claims still
waiting to be filed for things like causing injury, and 59 claims have been outright dismissed by
the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (The Refusers). If regulations for the
vaccine are passed despite these rashes of health issues, parents will be forced to either break the
law and risk punishment or vaccinate their child and expose them to the health risks of Gardasil.
Opposition has also been raised by religious conservatives who do not want to vaccinate
their children for fear that the children will ignore abstinence-based teaching and messages about
sexuality. Gardasil is proven only for cervical cancer and genital warts, so if children misread the
vaccine as permission to engage in sexual activity, there is a danger they will not use additional
birth control like a condom. This would result in not only an increase of sexually transmitted
infections and diseases in that population, but could lead to an increase in teen pregnancy rates as
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well as moral disruption in the community. Parents want to keep their children safe, but
sometimes are not willing to accept that their child is or will be sexually active and will need the
protection eventually.

2B. Social Organization Research
Due to the controversial nature of the HPV vaccine, there are two conflicting points of
view on the vaccination: The Refusers opposition and the Center for Disease Controls support.
The Refusers are a rock band and blog formed by Bainbridge Island dad Michael Belkin, 10
years after his infant daughter died of complication with a Hepatitis B vaccine (The Refusers:
Anti-Vaccination Rock and Roll.). The site is used for victims to blog about their complications
with vaccines and regulated medicine and reply to others, and the site also posts news articles
about recent updates in the medical world. The Refusers question every vaccine on the market
and discusses their effects, side effects, and whether they are beneficial to the patient. One
blogger and concerned parent, Maegan Soria, posted her story on the blog feed, recounting the
vaccines her mother gave her and their negative side effects. Soria experienced painful swollen
lymph nodes in a severe reaction after receiving a Hepatitis B vaccine and the Gardasil vaccine
at separate times (The Refusers). The Refusers serve as references for people who have questions
about vaccines and prescriptions, and to provide evidence against government-mandated
vaccination programs.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is the strongest supporter of vaccinating children
for HPV, advertising that vaccinations are strongly recommended for all children ages 11-12
(Merck). The CDC is a government-operated organization that was originally installed in July
1946 as Communicable Disease Control to help prevent the spread of fatal malaria throughout
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the country. The abbreviation CDC has changed meanings since 1946 to Center for Disease
Control and Prevention, to include all documented illness in the US. The CDC states on their
website that their main goal is to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both
foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or
preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and
citizens to do the same (CDC). The Center for Disease Control is responsible for testing all
prescription medicines along with the Federal Drug Administration for safety and harmful side
effects; Gardasil alone was tested on over 29,000 men and women. The CDC states that Gardasil
has been thoroughly studied for its potential side effects and continues to be monitored while
being used by the public, focusing on rare events not identified in the study trials (CDC).
Funding for The Refusers comes from fan donations, sponsorship, and a CD recorded by
the group available for purchase online. The Refusers also support internal authors, providing a
link to purchase the newest Refusers empowerment book. The organization raises awareness
through powerful lyrics about the pharmacy controversy and making a personal decision on
vaccinating rather than letting a healthcare professional tell one what they should or must do.
The Refusers do not operate solely for monetary reasons; the support is always welcomed and
appreciated, but not required. Their motto is music, education, activism (The Refusers). The
band is simply trying to speak out to the public about their rights and the healthcare industry, and
give lists of resources for parents making the decision to vaccinate. The consumer public is the
target audience of The Refusers, as their goal is to spread awareness and promote independence
in the medical field.
The Center for Disease Control is government-operated and employs citizens of various
specializations, ranging from teaching educational classes to administering vaccines abroad.
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According to their website, the CDC hires employees in science, technology, medical and
business positions, depending on what the applicant is interested in and the extent of their
education. Since the CDC houses a variety of important functions, there is a multitude of
different available positions. Many of the jobs within the CDC are salaried and full-time,
although there are positions available for students and volunteers. The agency has gained
momentum since its founding at a budget just under $10 million, while the fiscal year budget for
2012 was $6.8 billion. The center also releases about 85 percent of its annual budget to meet its
mission in various countries, funding health services and emergency care (CDC).
The Refusers have traveled to three different states in the past four years to bring
educational rock music to United States citizens. They have played in Chicago, Napa, and
Seattle, with no concert dates coming up soon. The Refusers band is comparable to a part-time
job for the band members, as they also lead normal lives and have jobs outside of the band. They
also have over 14,200 followers on Twitter, and 51,800 likes on Facebook, indicating that their
message is clear and relatable to the public (The Refusers). The Refusers update their blog
frequently, posting links to articles involving the pharmaceutical industry and stories of extreme
negative side effects from vaccines. Bloggers post on the forum and are able to answer questions
and respond to others, widening the knowledge pool of everyone involved. Some patients use the
blog to record and monitor their own symptoms or condition, while others visit for advice or to
learn more about vaccines. The site also contains a link to The Refusers store, where one may
purchase books on vaccines and the debate behind mandatory vaccinations, as well as the
groups newest album on CD.
The Center for Disease Control hosts numerous conferences, meetings, and events to
support world health, such as the annual National Immunization Conference (NIC). The NIC
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brings together state, federal, and communal support through exploring science, medicine and
technology to cure epidemic diseases and vaccinate against them (CDC). These conferences
educate the public about the benefits and downsides of vaccinations so they can make an
educated decision on their health, as well as learning about possible side effects and long-term
effects. One main focus of this event is HPV vaccine communication, science and safety,
which evolved from the publics questioning of the HPV vaccine and resultant hesitation to
vaccinate themselves and/or their children (CDC). The CDC also has hotlines to call with
questions about any health-related issue, and hundreds of volumes of teaching material on every
kind of reported and studied disease, making it very useful and accessible for many.
My interest in this topic arose from my childhood, when I had billions of questions about
sexuality, human health, and society. I have always enjoyed studying the details of human
interaction, and health is an integrated part of human life. The reason I am so interested in
sexuality is because my family instilled values in me to hold sexual interactions as sacred, do not
abuse them, and do not let anyone abuse your person. I am amazed by how commonplace sexual
activity has become, and I would really enjoy studying anything related to sexuality, such as
sexual heath, emotions, brain processes, and physical aspects, among other things. I would
consider the CDC to be the most effective agency, since it is government-funded and uses legal
as well as moral persuasion to promote health. However, I believe The Refusers organization is
crucial to Americas public to provide insight and valuable information that goes unspoken by
doctors, scientists, and news articles. Overall, I am a strong supporter of HPV research although,
as a vaccinee myself, I wish I had discovered the Gardasil controversy before taking my
doctors advice to receive the treatment.

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Works Cited
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, n.d. Web. 14 July 2014.
Colgrove, Dr. James. The Ethics and Politics of Compulsory HPV Vaccination. The New
England Journal of Medicine 7 December 2006: n. pag. Web. 14 July 2014.
Edwards, Jim. Rick Perrys Gardasil U-Turn: Heres what Actually Happened Back in 2007.
CBS Money Watch 18 August 2011: n. pag. CBS. Web. 14 July 2014.
Edwards, Jim. Girls as Guinea Pigs: What the CDCs Gardasil for Boys Issue Says About
Sexism in Medicine. CBS Money Watch 1 November 2010: n. pag. CBS. Web. 14 July
FDA. Gardasil. Vaccines, Blood & Biology (2014): n. pag. U.S. Food and Drug
Administration. Web. 14 July 2014.
Fox News. Merck issues voluntary recall of 743,360 vials of Gardasil HPV vaccine. Fox News
20 December 2013: n. pag. Web. 14 July 2014.
Merck. Gardasil. Merck & Co. (2013): n. pag. Web. 14 July 2014.
Mercola, Dr. Joseph. 213 Women Who Took Gardasil Suffered Permanent Disability. Mercola
24 January 2012: n. pag. Web. 14 July 2014.
Mercola, Dr. Joseph. Oncology Dietitian Exposes Fraud in CDCs HPV Vaccine Effectiveness
Study. Mercola 16 July 2013: n. pag. Web. 16 July 2014.
The Refusers: Anti-Vaccination Rock and Roll. Ring My Belle. KIRO Radio, Seattle Channel
97.3. 31 July 2012.
The Refusers. US vaccine court pays $6 million to Gardasil victims, most claims not yet
settled. Hear the Refusers 8 April 2013: n. pag. The Refusers. Web. 14 July 2014.