Sara, Utah: At 19 years old, Sara had everything going for her. She was attending Brigham Young University on a full academic scholarship, majoring in Social Work with a minor in women’s studies. In addition to being academically gifted, she had been a dancer for years. She was in excellent health, never smoked or drank alcohol, ate healthy food and exercised regularly. She was a virgin. In short, she was at very minimal risk for cervical cancer.
She received an HPV information sheet from her college outlining the potential risks of HPV infection and the benefits of Gardasil vaccination. The only potential side effects listed on the information sheet were pain at the injection site, redness, and perhaps fainting. When Sara went to her physician for her annual check-up, the doctor was adamant that she needed Gardasil, even though she had a very low potential risk of cervical cancer based on her history and lifestyle. Sara followed her doctor’s advice, even though there was no history of cervical cancer in her family. The first injection, though painful, was not followed by particular reaction.
In January of 2007, when she went in for the second injection, she had no idea what events would follow. Sara was administered the second dose of Gardasil at the same time she took her seasonal flu vaccine.
One week later, Sara woke up paralyzed by pain. She was unable to get out of her bed. Four hours later, her roommates discovered her and she was rushed to the hospital. That was only the beginning of what she has continued to go through.
Sara now has a severely compromised immune system. Her white blood cell count dropped to virtually nothing. In the words of her physicians, her immune system has been almost completely eradicated. She has severe chronic pain in addition to chronic fatigue. Sara is extremely sensitive to any type of medication, when she never had a problem before. There have been many instances where she has been completely bedridden, unable to do anything.
It took three months for her physicians to recognize she had experienced an adverse reaction to Gardasil. They immediately filed a report with VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System). They also tried for over a year to contact Merck with no success. All phone calls went unanswered.
The icing on the cake was as soon as vaccine injury was determined to be the cause of her problems, Intermountain Health Care (IHC) would take no responsibility or acknowledge that her symptoms were caused by an adverse reaction to a vaccine administered at one of their clinics. So much for the Hippocratic Oath.
Sara feels like she is living in someone else’s body. Every day she wakes up wondering whether she will ever be her normal self again.
In spite of all of her physical ailments after Gardasil, Sara graduated valedictorian of her class and is now enrolled in a Masters Program and working as a research assistant. Sara is one more girl who has refused to allow her reaction to Gardasil make her ‘one less.’