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A life ruined by the HPV vaccine but the NHS turns its back

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LAST month I reported on the horrendous gaslighting experienced by pre-teens injured by the HPV vaccine. Powerful testimony by Clare Ramagge and her daughter Rebecca opened a Pandora’s box and the whole ugly truth is ready to fly.

In this report, I speak to a 25-year-old woman, injured by the HPV vaccine at the age of 12. She describes the treatment she received through the NHS as ‘child abuse’, while her mother Mary, a former chair of primary school governors, said, ‘If you take a vaccine and it goes wrong, know that you are on your own. No doctor will help you and neither will the authorities.’

Both prefer to remain anonymous, but their identities have been verified.

IT WAS 2010 when Eleanor and her classmates were summoned by the school nurse to receive their HPV vaccination, designed to protect against only one of the viruses blamed for causing cervical cancer. The TV  personality Jade Goody, who found fame in Big Brother, died of cervical cancer in 2009 when she was 27, so parents were keen to protect their girls.

For 12-year-old Eleanor, the injection wasn’t just a ‘sharp scratch’. She said: ‘It was very painful in my arm in a way that no one else complained about. It hurt so much it made me cry.

‘I went on an away trip with the school the following week. My stamina was really low, and I was trailing behind everyone else on a hike. I didn’t feel like myself at all.’

Eleanor was keen on sports and at the start of year eight in secondary school, had her fitness tested. She came second in stamina, measured across three classes of girls.

Mary noticed that her eldest daughter – Eleanor has two younger sisters – wasn’t her usual self. She suspected her persistent flu and headache symptoms were caused by the vaccine and emailed the school nurse who said, ‘let me reassure you, these side-effects are quite normal.’

A month after the first injection of GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Cervarix vaccine, Eleanor had her second jab – now they are given six months apart – but she was so ill with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), she was advised by Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), not to have the recommended third dose or any further vaccinations.

Cervarix was introduced in 2008. Only 36 per cent of the reactions recorded in the first year via the MHRA’s Yellow Card Scheme were considered to be ‘recognised’, which means that 64 per cent of reactions recorded had not been flagged up as a possibility by GSK.

By the end of 2009, the Medical Healthcare and products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had received 2,195 Yellow Cards, which included 4,830 adverse-reaction terms. ‘Most of the reports were submitted by school nurses,’ the MHRA wrote.

They dismissed reports of vision disturbance, limb jerking, limb numbness or tingling, difficulty in breathing or hyperventilation, as being due to fear or anticipation of the needle injection and not side effects of Cervarix. This suggests that they had no confidence in school nurses to know what a real side effect looked like.

Dizziness, headache and nausea were the top three effects reported, with malaise (161) and fatigue (133) the sixth and seventh most common. Incidentally, these are also symptoms of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) the debilitating syndrome characterised by abnormal heart rate on standing.

The MHRA used epidemiology – number crunching comparing numbers of HPV vaccinated to HPV unvaccinated – to dismiss Cervarix as the cause of 13 reports of CFS-like symptoms, which for some can mean permanent disability. Unless they knew the cause for every case of CFS in the general population they could not have safely drawn that conclusion, and it is generally not known what causes CFS. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) accept that it is ‘a change in the person’s immune system’, which should have been a massive red flag.

Vaccines are designed to provoke the immune system; they can cause an unwanted immune response and trigger autoimmune disease, so a full investigation should have been launched. Add in documents that show the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), the American body in charge of protecting public health, allowed GSK to report on possible autoimmune illnesses (after the vaccine was injected into pre-pubescent girls) picked up from post-marketing surveillance, and the case is anything but closed.

Boardroom politics and back-covering did nothing to help Eleanor whose school attendance plummeted because of debilitating fatigue. Inevitably, her social life suffered too. She said: ‘For my thirteenth birthday party, I had a sleepover, but I had a headache and struggled to stay awake. At a drama lesson one day I broke down because I couldn’t cope with the noise.’

Hospital visits proved fruitless and traumatic. Eleanor has less than fond memories of Great Ormond Street and describes their protocol as ‘child abuse’. Appointments began with cruel sessions on the exercise bike to measure her stamina, then came the psych form designed to prove it was all in her mind.

Eleanor said: ‘They wanted me to do graded exercise therapy in a staged return to school. I would go in for some lessons then mum would take me home. I was just exhausted all the time but was told children often feel tired after school.’

By the time Eleanor was 15, her fatigue was so disabling, Mary felt she would die if she continued to go to school. They decided to educate her at home. Eleanor said: ‘I burst into tears of relief.’

They focused on recovery. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatment has helped other girls recover, but the NHS would not provide it for Eleanor unless she had a verified autoimmune illness, and then CFS was not considered to be autoimmune.

She became desperate and terrified. Thankfully, two functional medicine doctors helped prevent her attempting suicide by prescribing supplements to support her immune system, and chelation to detox for heavy metals.

Homeopathy, herbal medicines and osteopathy all helped Eleanor gain back some function, while reflexology had previously caused a catastrophic energy crash that she never recovered from.

Without knowing the pathology causing Eleanor’s symptoms, a full recovery was unlikely, and the NHS could not find abnormalities in her blood tests. While alternative doctors found her mitochondria were affected and her system was depleted of essential vitamins and minerals, the NHS shrugged these results off.

The family tried hard to hold everyone involved to account by writing to GSK and their MP, but like other injured girls and their families, were stonewalled.

Other countries acted to protect their girls. Japan withdrew the HPV vaccine in 2013 over concerns of serious adverse reactions.

In the UK, in September 2013, Mary received an email from GSK which did not give their vaccine the all-clear. It just said: ‘Many people do not experience any problems,’ and advised them to seek help from their GP.

GSK’s medical director wrote to Mary’s MP saying: ‘Unfortunately, some people can experience adverse events following vaccination . . . Sometimes these adverse events are reactions or response to the vaccine . . . and sometimes they are coincidental and happen to appear around the same time.’ GSK also said that it was the responsibility of the school nurse to decide whether Eleanor was a suitable candidate for vaccination. Whether the school nurse knew this is up for debate.

Meetings with MPs at the House and with the MHRA, and complaints to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the UK Commission for Human Medicines, and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, all led to nothing and finally Covid was used as an excuse to postpone further investigation.

Mary applied for vaccine damage injury compensation, as the temporal relationship is noted on Eleanor’s medical records, but post-viral fatigue from which Eleanor suffered at the age of nine, though she had fully recovered from it, was used as an excuse to reject her claim.

Eleanor has not recovered her health and uses a wheelchair when outside the house. She has a diagnosis of ME/CFS and PoTS and she has tried hard to regain normal life. She passed eight GCSEs and one A Level but does not see a way to carry on.

Eloquent throughout our interview, she suddenly burst into tears. ‘I’m not crying because of what happened,’ she said, ‘I’m crying because I can’t see a future for myself. I wonder whether I will ever be able to do anything useful with my life.’

GSK said: ‘The MHRA conducted a safety review and found the balance of benefits and risks of Cervarix remains clearly positive.’

GOSH failed to respond to two requests for comment and the MHRA said they were investigating but after a week had not responded.

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Sally Beck
Sally Beck
Sally Beck is a freelance journalist with 30 years of experience in writing for national newspapers and magazines. She has reported on vaccines since the controversy began with the MMR in 1998.

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