Local women sue Merck after allegedly suffering side-effects from HPV vaccine – WSOC TV

Everyone has heard a lot of talk about vaccines these last few years because of the pandemic.

Action 9 investigator Jason Stoogenke has been looking into complaints about another one — it’s not tied to COVID, but it’s the vaccine for HPV, or the human papillomavirus.

The CDC says almost everyone will get HPV at some point in their lives but you’ll probably never know it. You’ll likely be fine. Still, in some cases, the virus can cause cervical and other cancer.

But Stoogenke found some women say the vaccine left them — or their daughters — with permanent health problems.

Rebecca Hougas and her mother say she got the Gardasil HPV vaccine when she was 9 years old, but she started having severe stomach pains at age 10.

“I wanted her to be protected,” Jamie Hougas said. But when the pain started, she became concerned.

“Once or twice a week, we were in the ER,” Jamie Hougas said.

They said doctors did all sorts of tests and ruled out various diseases.

“Our family went through a lot. That was when I said, ‘we’ve got to do something,’” Jamie Hougas said. “’I can’t, I can’t, this can’t continue, we’ve got to do something.'”

So she took to the internet and came across similar stories.

Now, years later, Rebecca told Stoogenke she’s still living with stomach problems and developed joint issues too. She described the pain as, twisting, turning, pulling, just terrible pain.”

Jamie Hougas believes, though she can’t prove it, that the HPV vaccine caused the health problems Rebecca now lives with.

“It just seems too much of a coincidence to ignore,” she said.

Others say they do have proof — enough proof to sue Merck, the company that makes Gardasil. A Harrisburg and a Mooresville woman each filed suit in federal court. The first says she’s living with lightheadedness, shortness of breath, migraines, fatigue, and GI issues, “none of which were present prior to her Gardasil vaccination,” the lawsuitsys.

The other says she has “whole body convulsions, sleep disorder … appetite loss, headaches, leg pain, severe fatigue … and skin problems” and that a neurologist said the vaccine may have caused some of the ailments.

The lawsuits, and the Hougases, claim Merck rushed the drug to market.

Merck emailed Stoogenke, saying, “We stand behind the safety and efficacy of our Gardasil vaccine and will vigorously defend against these claims.”

The company pointed to the numbers. It said it researched Gardasil for 20 years, that it’s now licensed in more than 130 countries, that the FDA didn’t just approve the vaccine recently — it’s been 14 years, that hundreds of millions of doses of Gardasil have been distributed worldwide, and that more than 160 studies have shown the vaccine is safe.

Experts: Gardasil’s benefits outweigh the risks

Fred Wyand and Denise Linton are with the American Sexual Health Association, based in North Carolina.

“The thing with vaccines, once they’re approved, it’s not they’re just thrown out there and the authorities say, ‘OK, we’re done.’ Best of luck to you.’ There is ongoing maintenance and surveillance to monitor these vaccines in terms of their safety profile,” Wyand said.

They said the benefits of the vaccine greatly outweigh the risks and that the vaccine can be life-saving.

“We’re actually seeing where there’s a reduction in pre-cancerous cells and a reduction in cervical cancer because of that,” Linton said. “I think this is awesome.”

The CDC and National Cancer Institute both recommend the HPV vaccine as well.

Rebecca Hougas said despite her experience, she still thinks getting an HPV vaccine, and vaccines in general, is a good idea.

“I’m sure there’s plenty of girls out there that had this vaccine and had no effects and it was great for them and now they’re not worried about it,” she said.

But Rebecca says she isn’t one of them.

Can you get a different HPV vaccine?

The short answer is no. Gardasil is the only one approved in the US

The takeaway here is that everyone’s case is different — so talk to your doctor.

Like Merck’s website says: “Only a doctor or health care professional can decide if GARDASIL … is right for you or your child.”

(WATCH BELOW: Moderna seeks authorization for COVID-19 vaccine for young children)

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