I'm not sure what drags fear-mongering garbage memes like this 2009-vintage "Developer of Gardasil Admits that Vaccine Is Basically Just Bubonic Plague" hoax back from the dead every couple of years, but there it is, going around and around on my Facebook feed again today. Because this apparently needs to be said: THIS STORY IS DISINGENUOUS DOODOO. DO NOT BELIEVE IT AND DO NOT REPOST IT.
As always, when your cousin you don't know that well posts a link to a website you've never heard of with an outra-a-a-a-a-ageous headline you can't quite believe (especially when that headline is hinting at something wingnutty like anti-vaccination hysteria), get thee to Snopes immediately. The claim that Gardasil has been responsible for the deaths of 32 women, and that a researcher has finally come clean about some sort of nefarious coverup, is entirely fabricated.
Here's your official debunkification, in brief:
The message quoted above warns that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has already received nearly 12,000 complaints about adverse medical issues related to Gardasil vaccinations, and that 32 young women died after receiving Gardasil vaccinations. Although this information is accurate in a strictly literal sense, it is a misleading presentation of raw data that does not in itself establish a causal connection between Gardasil and the posited medical dangers.
Regarding the supposedly damning video interview with Jenny Thompson of Health Sciences Institute:
Note that this video deals primarily with subjects such as the political and moral issues involved with requiring HPV vaccinations for young girls, the notion that vaccinated girls might mistakenly believe they had been immunized against contracting sexually transmitted diseases (other than HPV), and the claim that cervical cancer deaths can be effectively eliminated through means other than HPV vaccinations. It offers no real evidence that Gardasil vaccinations are dangerous other than to cite the raw VAERS data referenced above (without noting that analysis of those reports failed to establish a causal link between HPV vaccinations and the reported serious adverse events).
And as for that terrible "confession" from the (misidentified) Gardasil researcher:
That article grossly misrepresents what Dr. Harper actually said. Dr. Harper has expressed concerns such as how long protection from vaccines such as Gardasil will last (which is not a safety issue, but rather an issue of whether the expected results of an HPV immunization program will justify the financial costs), and whether the marketing of Gardasil might lead some women to avoid taking other STD-preventing precautions, but she has never said that Gardasil "doesn't work," "wasn't tested," or was "dangerous."
So, Facebook, are we good? We can debate the merits of widespread HPV vaccinations all day long, but let's at least try to stick to talking points that are true.
Image via ostill/Shutterstock.