INSIDER INFO: Brandy Vaughn was a former employee of Merck pharmaceuticals, but left after Vioxx was found to nearly double a patient’s risk of heart attack. She became an advocate for informed consent and now speaks out against pharmaceutical companies. She couldn’t believe the FDA approved the HPV vaccine for market and she does not believe it to be safe.

Docs, parents speak up for vaccine choice

In a continuing effort to see the HPV vaccine mandate repealed, Rhode Islanders Against Mandated HPV with the Council for Vaccine Safety hosted a presentation last Friday “Making Waves in the Ocean State,” with both professional and personal accounts of the dangers of the human papillomavirus vaccine.

Aimee Gardiner, leader of the grassroots Rhode Islanders Against Mandated HPV, said, “The Department of Health had their five presentations; this is ours.”

Speakers included doctors, legislators, parents and even those suffering from the supposed adverse effects from the vaccine and saw over 70 people in attendance.

Dr. Steve Petteruti focused on both his experiences as a doctor, and as a father whose son experienced sudden blindness a week after receiving the vaccine.

Petteruti, always an “advocate for parental and personal freedoms,” chose to have his son, one of seven children, vaccinated last year. After a week he received a “panic call” from his son’s school that he was being rushed to Hasbro Children’s Hospital for spontaneous vision loss.

Petteruti and his wife asked doctors if it could be associated to the Gardisil vaccine and asked to make a report to the CDC, but they were told there was no correlation and no need for a report.

Despite this, the family put their own report into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a year later, the family has yet to hear anything from the organization. Thankfully, his son has regained most of his vision.

“Who knows how many other stories like this are out there,” he said. “We are marginalized as anecdotal with no science behind it.”

Petteruti also argued that with a mandate should come a “compelling need,” but no child will miss school because of HPV, however they might from adverse affects from the vaccine.

Dr. Chris Stowe, another speaker, was in agreement and said when you hear that a mandate is being put into place you assume there is a “disaster occurring without any other alternative.” With the HPV vaccine, he argued that is not the case; he believes making sure women receive regular pap smears and cervical screenings would be a better way to prevent cervical cancer, the vaccine’s biggest benefit.

“Parents will fight for a vaccine if it is shown to benefit their kids. Look at the polio vaccine; prove a vaccine is beneficial and parents will flock to have their kids get it,” Stowe said.

One of Stowe’s patients, Shayna Enos, 29, also spoke about her experiences with chronic pain and a compromised autoimmune system she attributes to the HPV vaccine.

Her pain increased with each shot, the vaccine comes in three doses, and she has undergone some unusual treatments to ease her pain, including bee sting therapy and now she receives ketamine infusions.

“It’s so hard to fight something when you don’t even know what it is,” she said. “Everything you are and want to be is taken away with three shots.”

She believes getting the vaccine was the worst choice she’s ever made, but stressed that it was her choice and no one should take that potentially “life-altering choice” away.

Dr. Toni Bark, former director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago and co-producer of the documentary “Bought,” said Enos’ story is not as uncommon as we would like to think. She said that countries around the world are suing Merck, the pharmaceutical company that produces Gardisil, for the “girls damaged” from the vaccine. She said girls in Denmark have seen a spike in POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) after vaccination.

Bark noted there isn’t a single pharmaceutical company that hasn’t had major criminal charges made against them at some point.

“The world of health administration and big pharma is unbelievably corrupt,” Bark said. “Their policies are not what’s best for you, but what’s best for their stakeholders.”

Despite the obvious push back from some parents across the state, the Department of Health (HEALTH) intends to continue with the mandate.

HEALTH provided this statement:

“The Rhode Island Department of Health’s stance on HPV vaccine has not evolved. HPV vaccine is very effective at preventing a virus that leads to cancer in both boys and girls. Numerous studies have also demonstrated that the vaccine is safe. However, the Rhode Island Department of Health is committed to making sure that no child is excluded from school because of her or his HPV vaccination status. We are continuing to work with school nurses and school administrators to make sure that parents are aware of the exemption process.”

Health has also upheld that the CDC recommends the vaccination and has studies proving its efficiency and safety, but Bark would argue the CDC is “in bed with big pharma to advertise” vaccinations.

Similarly, she would argue all the safety tests were “bogus” with “cherry picked” participants.

Bark said, “This drug was not made with teenagers in mind, but for third world countries where women can’t get regular pap smears and cervical screenings.”

If preventing cervical cancer is the main focus of this mandate, she suggested mandating pap smears or ensure women have easy access to proper health care.

Brandy Vaughn, a former sales representative for Merck and now founder of the Council for Vaccine Safety, can’t believe the HPV vaccine was ever allowed onto the market.

Vaughn helped sell Vioxx, which ended up being one of the largest drug recalls in this country’s history in 2004 after being linked to nearly doubling a patient’s risk of heart attack, stroke and death.

“Just because a drug is on the market doesn’t make it safe,” she said. “What goes on behind the scenes is very different than what you see on TV.”

Because vaccines are classified differently than drugs, Vaughn said they undergo less rigorous safety regulations and are often “fast tracked” to market because they are highly profitable.

Today children need four times more vaccines than children in the ’80s and over 300 new vaccines are currently in development Vaughn noted.

“The rest of the world is taking this off the market and we are trying to mandate it,” Vaughn said. “This is about more than just this vaccine. If we don’t keep our right for informed consent now, we have a lot coming our way.”

Several state legislators were in attendance, including Representatives Sherry Roberts, Blake Filippi, Justin Price and Robert Nardolillo, who all agreed that this was an overstep of the government and will work next session to introduce legislation to get it repealed. They believe that parents need more freedoms, not less.

For more information, visit Rhode Islanders Against Mandated HPV Vaccines’ Facebook page or the Council for Vaccine Safety’s website at www.safevax.org.

For more information on the mandate or to find a religious exemption form, visit www.health.ri.gov/hpv.