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Cervical Cancer Vaccination For Schoolgirls Launched in South Africa

Updated on March 27, 2014
 © Martie Coetser
© Martie Coetser

National vaccination campaign to prevent cervical cancer

A national vaccination campaign to prevent cervical cancer in women was launched on March 13, 2014 in South Africa. The initial target group seems to be Grade Four school girls. The majority of these girls are TEN years old. This vaccine is supposed to protect girls from cervical cancer in 20 years' time. According to South Africa’s Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, the vaccinations is an investment not only in the girls' health, but in the health of a future generation of women.

Harald zur Hausen

@ Wikimedia Commons
@ Wikimedia Commons | Source

HPV – the culprits causing Cervical Cancer

The Human papillomavirus (HPV), a DNA virus from the papillomavirus family, had been identified already in 1983-1984 by the German virologist, Harald zur Hausen, as the virus causing 75% of human cervical cancer.

Harald zur Hausen, born 11 March 1936, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and also the Gairdner Foundation International Award in 2008 for his research on cancer of the cervix and his discovery of the role of papilloma viruses in this particular cancer. He identified HPV 16 and 18 DNA in cervical cancer tumors – the culprits responsible for ~75% of human cervical cancer. His research led to development of the vaccine, Gardasil. He also identified HPV 6 as the virus causing genital warts.

NB: Harald zur Hausen shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2008 with Luc Montagnier and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, the discoverers of the human immunodeficiency virus.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in SA women, killing approximately 3 400 women in South Africa each year.

According to research 70% of cervical cancers are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) - a very contagious virus transmitted during intimate skin-to-skin contact.

Two HPV vaccines on the market:

Two HPV vaccines are currently on the market:

  1. Gardasil, approved in 2006 by the United State’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), protects against HPV: 6, 11, 16 and 18. Gardasil is a quadrivalent vaccine manufactured by Merck.
  2. Cervarix, which is bivalent vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, has been approved by FDA in 2007 to protect against HPV 16 and 18.

Random Facts:

  • HPV 16 and 18 cause 70% of cervical cancers.
  • HPV 6 and 11 cause about 90% of genital warts.
  • HPV 16 and 18 infections are also the cause of a unique type of oropharyngeal (throat) cancer.
  • Gardasil is also indicated for boys and men ages 9-26, protecting them against HPV 6 and 11.
  • Gardasil was also approved for the prevention of anal cancer in 2010.

In South Africa both Gardasil and Cervarix were approved by the Medicines Control Council (MCC) in February 2014. I am not yet sure which vaccine is applied in the current campaign against cervical cancer in South Africa. According to some articles in the local news papers it is 'completely safe and not the same as the one that was applied in Japan'.

As protection against cervical cancer the HPV-vaccine is given as a series of three injections over a 6 month period to females between the ages of 9 and 26. However, according to my granddaughter the girls in her school will receive only two: One now in March and one in November - 2 injections over a period of 8 months. (According to the newspapers the second campaign will be in October.)

Negative Reports on the HPV vaccines

A Cancer vaccine program with Gardasil, made by Merck & Co, and marketed by MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd., was suspended by India in July 2010 after the death of 4 girls and complications reported by 120 girls.

In June 2013 the government of Japan withdrew its recommendation to use the HPV vaccines in girls just a week after health officials in the United States had concluded that the vaccine effectiveness is indeed "high." The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare has not suspended vaccination; they merely instructed local governments not to promote the use of the medicine while analyses are conducted about adverse effects. From December 2012 until March 2013 106 serious cases of body convulsions, pains in joints, and/or difficulty in walking have been reported.

Prescribing information in the US:

Gardasil: The most common systemic reactions in girls in American trials were headache (28.2%) and fever (13.0%). Arthralgia occurred in 1.2% of Gardasil recipients. In the entire American Gardasil study population of 29,323 individuals, 0.04% had serious systemic adverse reactions that were judged to be vaccine-related by a study investigator.

Cervarix: The most common systemic reactions were fatigue (54.6%) and headache (53.4%). Arthralgia occurred in 20.7% of Cervarix recipients. In the entire Cervarix study population of 16,381 females, 5.3% of recipients reported serious adverse reactions.

Complications reported not only in India are stomach disorders, epilepsy, headaches, early menarche, seizures, strokes, dizziness, fatigue, weakness, vomitting, muscle pain and weakness, joint pain, auto-immune problems, chest pains, hair loss, appetite loss, personality changes, insomnia, hand/leg tremors, arm/leg weakness, shortness of breath, heart problems, paralysis, itching, rashes, swelling, aching muscles, pelvic pain, nerve pain, menstrual cycle changes, fainting, swollen lymph nodes, night sweats, nausea, and temporary vision/hearing loss, just to name some of them!

According to thousands of girls are having adverse reactions to the HPV vaccines. Their report dated March 28, 2013 stated that at least 103 girls had died after receiving the vaccine.

Please visit their site for more information and contact to file your complaints.

 © Martie Coetser
© Martie Coetser

Author’s Note

My granddaughter (10 years old) received the first of 2 injections on Monday, March 24 (2014). Since Monday she is suffering side effects such as high fever, headache, fatigue, appetite loss, nausea, and pain.

We are all concerned about her and pray that she will get well soon. Her parents will most probably refuse the 2nd injection.

Nevertheless, we read in the newspapers -

that the vaccine used in South-Africa is

'completely safe. The HPV vaccine that caused deaths in Japan is completely different from the one that is being used in South Africa. The vaccine used by SA's government has been used for many years in the private sector without any adverse effects.'

Gardasil - The Damage is Done: From A Best Friend's View

Gardasil Victim Speaks Out After 2 Years

© 2014 Martie Coetser


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