Planned documentary explores the dangers of HPV vaccine
by Margot Seeto | Mar 2, 2011
“People don’t just fall over dead.”
The One More Girl project / Why would two young men make a documentary about women’s health? For brothers Ryan and David Richardson, who live in Honolulu, the personal became the political. A year-and-a-half ago, the Richardsons’ teenage sister, Donielle, was administered a shot of Gardasil, one of the human papilloma virus vaccines on the market that aim to protect women 26 years old and younger against cervical cancer through a series of three shots. What happened immediately following that first shot was frightening. Donielle’s eyes rolled to the back of her head. She started convulsing. Donielle had a seizure. While her recovery was arduous for the Richardson family, Donielle is now healthy.
However, other young women haven’t been as fortunate. The scare the Richardson family experienced led them to research the potential dangers of Gardasil. Little did they know they would tap into a flood of what they and other advocates see as Gardasil-related injuries and even deaths.
The brothers connected with national advocacy groups Truth About Gardasil andS.A.N.E. Vax, Inc., and made it their mission to document the stories of Gardasil’s victims, many of whom struggle with debt incurred by medical bills, permanent autoimmune disorders and the deaths of their young daughters.
While Gardasil’s manufacturer, Merck, says there is no connection between Gardasil and the alleged adverse effects its critics describe, Ryan points out, “People don’t just fall over dead.”
According to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), there have been 21,341 reports of injury and 93 deaths associated with an HPV vaccine. This takes into account that only 1 percent to 10 percent of adverse effects are reported.
One More Girl will be the name of the planned documentary–a riff on Merck’s “One Less Girl” Gardasil campaign, which won 2007 Brand of the Year by Pharmaceutical Executive for “creating a market out of thin air.”
As of Feb. 23, the One More Girl project garnered 334 backers pledging a total of $23,304 on Kickstarter. The documentary needs $37,000 pledged by April 1 for the funds to be released.
So who are the hundreds of people nationwide rooting for the Richardsons’ film?
“A lot of angry moms,” says David. Mothers of Gardasil victims have been holding mini fundraisers such as bake sales in hopes of making the Richardsons’ documentary a reality. The Richardson brothers are also in pre-production, gathering their long list of potential interviewees and continuing to research Gardasil. They hope to film cross-country, including Hawaii, this summer, with the hope of releasing the film in 2012.