HPV Vaccines in Spain: What happened to ‘first do no harm’?

By Alicia Capilla,

log_aavpIn direct response to what appears to be a total disregard for the health and safety of young women by the National Health Authorities of Spain regarding HPV vaccination policies, AAVP (Association of people Affected by HPV Vaccines) and La Liga para la Libertad de Vacunación (League for Vaccination Liberty) have come together to publish Documentos 6 para la Reflexiόn, a magazine putting HPV vaccines under review.

This magazine contains valuable articles written by health experts who believe that HPV vaccines should be withdrawn from the Spanish calendar of vaccines. Prestigious medical and scientific professionals have freely contributed their views on the safety, efficacy and risk benefit profiles of HPV vaccines. Among them are Dr. Juan Gérvas, General Practitioner and promoter of the CESCA team; Dra Flora Luna, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board of the Peruvian Medical Association; Máximo Sandin, Doctor of Biology at the University of Madrid; translated work of Dr. Chris Shaw, Lucija Tomljenovic and J.P. Spinosa, Neural Dynamics Research Group, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of British Columbia; Teresa Forcades, Dra of Public Health; Carlos Alvarez-Dardet, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Alicante; Dra Coro-Goitia and Dr. Xavier Uriarte. (The publication can be accessed here.)

Why did these medical experts feel compelled to speak out against HPV vaccines?

Alicia Capilla explains in her editorial how Spain authorized the inclusion of HPV vaccines in their immunization schedule on August 24, 2007. It seems Minister Bernat Soria had cut through normal legal and administrative procedures so these vaccines were included in the schedule with unprecedented speed. It did not seem to matter official data showed the incidence rate of the disease these vaccines were intended to prevent (cervical cancer) was very low and occurred primarily in older women (2/100,000 women with a median age of 63). It did not seem to matter that vaccination did not replace the need for annual screening. It did not seem to matter that despite misleading advertising, HPV vaccines were not vaccines against cancer, but vaccines against two of the dozen or so strains of HPV implicated in cervical cancer development.

Immediately following Minister Soria’s approval, the two laboratories manufacturing HPV vaccines – Merck-Sanofli (Gardasil®) and GlaxoSmithKline (Cervarix®) subsidized the implementation of their vaccines in a greater number of regions, much the same as they had done in other countries.

Chairwoman of AAVP, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to work for decent medical care for those who have suffered adverse reactions after HPV vaccinations, Alicia Capilla states:

We must bear in mind, as HPV vaccines were first marketed in our country and our government was taking in complaints about the marketing practices and pressures exerted by the pharmaceutical companies to increase uptake of their vaccines – other countries where HPV vaccines were being used such as the United States were collecting thousands of reports of adverse reactions after Gardasil and Cervarix use.

A large group of health professionals in Spain called for a moratorium on the introduction of HPV vaccines claiming to have serious doubts about their efficacy and the huge cost to the public health system. They collected signatures and urged caution, but the Health Minister ignored their concerns.

An unprecedented marketing campaign ignored many of the side effects being reported in other countries. As in other countries, it did not take long for HPV vaccines to exhibit their darker side. The same side effects being reported in other countries began to show up in Spanish young women.

On the 4th and 6th of February 2009, two girls were admitted to the same hospital in Valencia, both in critical condition after HPV vaccine administration. At the same time, a Majorcan girl had the same symptoms as those in Valencia.

At first, the Health Authorities in Valencia recognized a potential causal relationship between HPV vaccines and the convulsions of the girls and were committed to finding out what happened. Despite their written commitment to uncover what happened, meetings with Ministry of Health officials apparently changed their minds. No serious investigation was forthcoming.

9 July 2009, a petition for a Moratorium on HPV vaccine use was submitted to the Department of Health of the Valencian Community and the Spanish Ministry of Health. This petition was virtually ignored.

23 December 2009, the Ministry of Health received a petition with more than 9,500 signatures of people who wanted the Health Authorities to recognize the side effects girls suffered as a consequence of HPV vaccine use. Once again, there was no adequate response from the Ministry of Health.

AAVP has repeatedly demanded damage recognition, the incorporation of informed consent (on the evidence of serious complications) and the withdrawal of HPV vaccines from the Spanish Health Authorities. Our pleas have been virtually ignored by Spain’s Health Authorities.

The death of a 13 year old girl in Gijon in September 2012 was unacceptable under any circumstances.

Consequently, we ask practitioners to provide appropriate information to families before administering the vaccine and the Ministry of Health to create a compensation fund for people who suffer vaccine side effects and withdraw  HPV vaccines from the immunization schedule for girls – and hence the no extension to children for two main reasons:

– The risks these unnecessary vaccines cause to young population when preventive measures are available, effective and safe, such as cytology, condoms and sex education, as the infection is acquired through sexual contact.

– The unjustified costs involved for the Spanish Health System, while we are suffering indiscriminate cuts that threaten the health benefits and equity compromise.

Our unsuccessful efforts to be received by any of the Ministers of Health that have happened in the last four years, have been in vain and neither deigned to meet our request for a hearing, an attitude that it is still incomprehensible in those who have an obligation to ensure the health of its citizens, especially when they have been putting people at risk as a result of political rather than medical decisions.

Modestly, but in a persistent way, our association will continue to work for justice for these victims. The publication of Documentos 6 para la Reflexiόn is simply another step toward protecting our children from unnecessary risks to control a disease they have little chance of developing in the first place.


  1. An excellent article. The Association of people Affected by HPV Vaccines, League for Vaccination Liberty and many others do admirable work in drawing attention to the risks of the HPV vaccines and to the costs, both economical and in connection with suffering regarding the many vaccine injured, also in working for the rights of the vaccine injured.

    Unfortunately it does not seem to be sufficient to provide evidence of the huge numbers of serious adverse events and tragedies resulting from the HPV vaccines. There is the extremely important issue which must be seriously addressed: the widespread conflicts of interest which exists between health authorities, politicians and the pharmaceutical industry.

    In Norway, as in Spain, the HPV vaccine (Gardasil) was introduced in the children’s vaccination schedule, irrespective of the concerns of the many who requested that one should wait until more was known about the potential risks.

    It appeared that a contract had been negotiated between the FDA, Merck the Gardasil manufacturer and the Norwegian government.
    The contract involved an agreement that Merck should perform studies regarding thousands of Gardasil vaccinated Norwegian girls. There were several clauses in the contract which was sent from FDA, addressed to Merck and which includes:
    “You have committed to conduct a study in collaboration with the Norwegian Government, if GARDASIL is approved in the European Union and the Government of Norway incorporates HPV vaccination into its national guidelines, to assess the impact of HPV vaccination on the following in Norway:
    “The interaction between administration of GARDASIL and pregnancy outcomes, especially congenital anomalies, by linking the vaccination registry with the Medical Birth Registry”.

    There were implications of corruption involved in connection with the negotiations and introduction of Gardasil into the schedule.
    Christina England has written about this in her article: “Merck is found to be paying experts to recommend Gardasil”:

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