The distribution of Merck’s human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil has been halted in France, where a government-appointed group of immunologists and other researchers has been formed to determine if the benefits of the vaccine are worth the risks.
As in the United States, Gardasil has become a “thorny subject” in France, with many parents suspicious of the vaccine’s benefits and fearful of its risks, according to France’s Le Point.
Data pulled from the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) shows that from the time Gardasil was introduced in 2006 until September 15, 2011, 20,096 adverse events following the vaccine were reported, including 71 deaths. Pain and swelling at the injection site, fever, dizziness, nausea, fainting, seizures, blood clots, and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) are some of the adverse events reported to VAERS following Gardasil vaccinations.
Considering the dangers and uncertainties surrounding the Gardasil vaccine, the French parliament has recommended stalling distribution of the vaccine until a risk-benefit analysis is completed. The move, Le Point says, is surprising because large advertising campaigns and vaccination programs have already begun in France.
Researchers involved in the study say that a number of questions remain unanswered about the vaccine’s effectiveness after 5 years, what target population would be best for maximum efficiency, and basic questions about the drug’s safety, including the effects of borax, a Gardasil ingredient that is commonly used in rat poison and pesticides.
Echoing the concerns of many parents and other critics skeptical of Gardasil’s value, French parliamentarians questioned whether girls receiving the drug would wrongly believe themselves to be protected against all cervical cancers and even sexually transmitted diseases as some studies have found.