Prepare to be Outraged
October 27, 2018 By Kendall Nelson
Ten years ago, my producing partners and I flew to Kansas to film with Gaby Swank, a beautiful fifteen-year-old girl who had suffered severe adverse reactions to the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil. Our intention was to interview Gaby so she could tell her vaccine-injury story in our documentary, The Greater Good.
When we arrived at her house, her mother led us to a room where we found Gaby lying in bed with the lights off, chronically fatigued, muscles aching—wearing an “I Don’t Want to Be One Less” tee-shirt. The writing on Gaby’s shirt referred to an ad campaign created by the pharmaceutical company Merck. The ads targeted teenage girls, suggesting they could be “one less” victim of cervical cancer if they got the HPV vaccine.1 The television commercial that prompted Gaby to get vaccinated opened with a girl at a skateboard park wearing her baseball cap backwards, saying to the camera, “I could be one less.” It then went on to feature other enviable girls playing soccer, dancing and skipping rope to a “be one less” chant. The imagery was so alluring that neither Gaby nor her mother noticed the warnings embedded within the ad mentioning a long list of side effects, nor did they note the statement that Gardasil does not protect against all types of cervical cancer.
During the first year that Gardasil was on the market, Merck spent one hundred million dollars advertising their HPV vaccine to girls like Gaby. Unfortunately, what Gaby and her mother saw as a health benefit rapidly became a health nightmare after Gaby followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation to get three doses of Gardasil. Once a varsity cheerleader and straight-A student, Gaby was no longer able to attend school, hang out with friends or walk long distances. She suffered two strokes, partial paralysis on the right side of her face and partial vision loss. She also experienced multiple daily seizures. Gaby would later be diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a disease that causes dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system; central nervous system (CNS) lupus, a disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s own cells and tissues; cerebral vasculitis, a disease that causes inflammation of blood vessels that can restrict blood flow, resulting in organ and tissue damage; and fibromyalgia disorder, characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.
To read the full article at the Weston A. Price Foundation click here.