By Robert Verkerk PhD
Founder, executive and scientific director, Alliance for Natural Health International
Scientific director, Alliance for Natural Health USA

When your 12-year-old daughter comes back from school with the consent form for HPV vaccine in hand, and you have to make the decision on her behalf, all the issues around informed consent come sharply into focus. My older two daughters — now adults — missed the boat on this one. Like all women preceding our current generation of youngsters, their ability to live alongside human papilloma viruses (HPVs) is sealed by millions of years of evolution alongside these viruses and other microbes, the vast majority of which are non-pathogenic and many of which are beneficial or commensal.

My youngest two daughters, however, face a new predicament — one that’s only been on offer to humans for a decade: the HPV vaccine.  Should or shouldn’t they be exposed to a genetically engineered vaccine, hailed as the best shot at cervical cancer prevention?

It’s an issue we’ve reported on before, so we won’t duplicate information we’ve already provided.  Following is a selection of some of our previous pieces (in reverse chronological order) on the HPV vaccine and informed consent:

18/01/17 – Its official: HPV vaccine, the most dangerous vaccine yet
07/09/16 – HPV vaccine propaganda
20/01/16 – HPV vaccine ‘cover-up’ allegations
16/12/15 – Grassroots pressure against HPV vaccine grows
04/11/15 – Swedish cover-up HPV vaccine side effects- and more
10/06/15 – ANH Feature: HPV vaccine: should you or shouldn’t you?

Signing on the dotted line

My daughter came home with 3 papers in hand. One was a letter from NHS England with the subject “Good news – Beating cervical cancer”. The second was a “Vaccination consent form” that offers the parent or guardian two choices:

  • I want my daughter to receive the full course of HPV vaccinations; or:
  • I do not want my daughter to have the HPV vaccine
    [the consent options are bolded as above]

At the bottom of the form is a statement that says, “Any side effects following the HPV vaccination should be reported to the school nurse or your GP”. This is interesting as I have now met with many young girls who have developed severe reactions, which were reported to schools or GPs and were rapidly dismissed as not being linked.

The third item that my daughter brought home from school was a folded leaflet entitled “Beating cervical cancer” that is also available electronically.

The big question for my family earlier this week was: what information was being provided, and was this sufficient to make an informed consent?

Uninformed consent

The reality is that the information my daughter was given, information that’s intended to help guide us in this very important decision, amounts to — in my personal view — a sales pitch for Merck (the vaccine’s manufacturer).

It couldn’t be described as anything approaching the provision of all relevant, currently known information about the likely benefits and risks of HPV vaccination. It also gave away nothing about other options available, should we choose to not go down the vaccination route for my daughter.

Yet, my daughter also has a legal right to accept vaccination in the event that we, as parents don’t provide our consent. In the UK, as school nurses are the primary party administering vaccines, they also — somewhat incredibly in our view — have the right to vaccinate against the will of parents or guardians if they have assessed the potential recipient of the vaccine as Gillick competent. With only 12 years of life in the tank, a sales pitch thrown at them and a mass of information withheld, is the original subject matter — contraceptives/birth control — decided by the House of Lords in 1986 (Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech AHA [1986]) really of relevance to HPV vaccination?

Our petition (please sign if you agree with it and haven’t already done so) spelt out the definition of informed consent: “Informed consent means that all relevant information should be available before someone is asked to decide about their own, or their child’s, vaccination. This should include the known benefits and risks, as well as any alternatives, to the proposed treatment.” We linked this explanation to a legal primer to remind readers of the legal importance of providing information about alternatives to the proposed treatment.

What they haven’t told us

We could write a book about this, but everyone’s time challenged. So here’s a summary:

  • Vaccinate all Year 8 (12-year-old) girls to save 400 lives in the UK. How do we know? The leaflet and consent form all imply that being vaccinated will protect against HPV-related cancers, when in fact it’s too early to see if the vaccine works long-term to create a population-wide reduction in cancer that matches the mathematical models that are loaded with assumptions. Using these models, the UK NHS predicts that “400 lives could be saved a year” from cervical cancer if nearly the entire adolescent female population is vaccinated. But this is a prediction based on many assumptions including the prolonged immunogenicity of the vaccines. This has to be questioned further given the changes being made to the vaccine. The earlier, bivalent vaccine appeared to have around twice the persistence (approx. 8 years) compared with the quadrivalent vaccine, now in its final period of use in the UK as part of the national vaccination programme, in which the immune response wanes after just 4 years. What about the long-term efficacy of the latest Gardasil9 (already in use in the USA, and soon to be released in the UK), which targets not 2 or 4, but 9 sub-types of HPV? Surely temporary effects on immunogenicity cannot be translated to long-term protection against HPV-related cancers? And surely data from the old vaccine shouldn’t be applied to the new vaccine(s)? Decades worth of data from use of a given vaccine on young girls would be required to draw such conclusions.
  • Unknown effectiveness. The effectiveness of the vaccine in reducing HPV-related cancers is assumed to be equivalent to the capacity for the vaccine to neutralise HPV antibodies, notably for high-risk HPV types (HR HPV). Given the transient nature of immunogenicity to HPV antibodies (e.g. 1-5 years), the potential for viral load acquired from birth (e.g. from the mother), as well as sexual activity prior to vaccination, it is wrong to assume an antibody response in the short-term is equivalent to cancer protection in the long-term.
  • Health authorities mute on options other than vaccination. No information is provided to adults or adolescent children being targeted for vaccination on other options (see below) to protect against HPV-related cancers, other than vaccination. This is astounding given the many years of information available from cervical screening including knowledge that cervical abnormalities from Pap smear tests commonly normalise in time suggesting effective natural immunity.
  • HPV is extremely common in humans and rarely leads to cancer. Parent, guardians and children have been led to believe that the so-called high-risk HPV types (16 and 18) are always pathogenic, when in fact infection with these and other sub-types of HPV is extremely common in young people, and only in a small proportion does cancer manifest.
  • Data on health risks sanitised by health authorities. Information on agreed adverse effects based on trial data by vaccine manufacturers is considerably less in the UK than it is in the USA (see Infographic below). This information probably significantly under-represents the actual risks which continue to be a subject of controversy, mainly because it is very difficult to causally link adverse events that occur within a few days of vaccination with the particular adverse event. In the UK, there are thousands of reports of girls feeling “seriously ill” after routine HPV vaccination. The Association of Vaccine Injured Daughters is an example of grassroots effort by families of girls who have suffered serious, debilitating and sometimes permanent effects shortly following HPV vaccination. Similar grassroots actions have sprung up in many other countries including Japan, Denmark, India and elsewhere.
  • The HPV vaccine is a genetically modified vaccine. If you read the smallprint on the patient information leaflet that can be downloaded, but is rarely read by the recipient, parent or guardian, you will find the active virus-like particles are made using “recombinant DNA technology” from yeast. Many laypeople won’t be aware that recombinant DNA technology is a form of genetic engineering (GE) or genetic modification (GM). Across the EU, including the UK, and increasingly in other parts of the world, it is mandatory to declare GM ingredients in foods. In the case of medicines, which entirely bypass the gastro-intestinal tract and are injected directly into muscles and then absorbed by the bloodstream, shouldn’t the public be clearly informed that the HPV vaccine is a GM vaccine?
  • The aluminium additive in the vaccine creates adverse effects. The ingredients list also includes aluminium hydroxide which is used to increase the reactivity (‘reactogenicity’) of the genetically modified virus-like particles. As Drs Tomljenovic, Shaw and others at the University of British Columbia have found, rather than being assumed to be a safe additive, aluminium used as an adjuvant in vaccines is far from safe and has the “potential to induce serious immunological disorders in humans. In particular, aluminum in adjuvant form carries a risk for autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation and associated neurological complications and may thus have profound and widespread adverse health consequences”. The presence of aluminium adjuvants accounts for the high rate of serious adverse effects  in control groups in drug licensing studies.
  • HPV, a sexually transmitted virus. The NHS leaflet on HPV accompanying the consent form says that HPV is “very common” and that it is ‘caught’ “through intimate sexual contact with another person who already has it.” Given this recognition of HPV as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), the leaflet does not categorise HPV infection as an STI alongside other STIs such as syphilis, gonorrhoea or HIV. More importantly, it provides no advice to parents, guardians or children on protected sex or on support that helps children to avoid very early sexual activity. Case-control studies reveal that the risk of cervical disease increases significantly among women whose male partners had a greater number of sex partners and HPV infection, presumably because viral load, not just presence or absence of the virus or antibodies to it, is an important determinant.
  • Modified vaccine means altered risk/benefit profile. In the UK Cervarix and Gardasil (in both bivalent and quadrivalent forms) have been available since the launch of the government sanctioned national immunisation programme 10 years ago. Safety and effectiveness data are assumed to be equivalent for all vaccines, despite evidence to the contrary. This amounts to the public being seriously misled. The UK is shortly to start vaccinating with Gardasil9 which targets 9 rather than 4 HPV types. Since receiving the letter from the school a few days ago, we have made extensive enquiries and cannot get confirmation from any source in NHS England or my local authority whether it is anticipated that my daughter would be vaccinated with the quadrivalent version or Gardasil9 this Autumn. In fact, in asking for information from all available helplines, none of the operators understood the question, believing the vaccine had always been the same one.

Infographic: are UK citizens being short-changed on safety data?
Comparing safety data on patient information leaflets for quadrivalent Gardasil in the UK and USA.

1 http://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/PIL.19033.latest.pdf
https://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM111263.pdf
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18473731
https://www.rpi.edu/dept/chem-eng/Biotech-Environ/Projects00/rdna/rdna.html


There is more than one option

In order to be true to the concept of informed consent, parents and guardians should be given more information about options available. These might be as follows:

Option 1 – The HPV vaccine option: Go for the two vaccine shots, the second shot being between 6 and 24 months after the first. Accept any associated risks from adverse events and as adults, maintain cervical screening (Pap tests).  As noted by Dr Stella Heley of the Victorian Cytology Service in Melbourne, Australia, Pap test abnormalities will still be seen in many vaccinated women because of HPV exposure prior to them receiving the HPV vaccine.

Option 2: The no HPV vaccine option: Help build natural immunity through healthy diet and appropriate lifestyle, minimise any risk of sexual activity prior to puberty, and regular cervical screening for women over 30.

Option 3: Cervical cancer screening only (for women over 30). Even the smallprint in the the UK Gardasil patient information leaflet states “Vaccination is not a substitute for routine cervical screening. You should continue to follow your doctor’s advice on cervical smear/Pap tests and preventative and protective measures.” The US GARDASIL leaflet states: “GARDASIL does not eliminate the necessity for women to continue to undergo recommended cervical cancer screening“.

With boys increasingly being targeted, information provided prior to consent should include the natural history of HPVs in men as well as women including the fact that clearance of infection by immune system typically occurs within 12 months.


The unknown consequences of tampering with our virobiome

Finally, let me speculate a little – as an ecologist and health scientist. Health authorities like to make out that the science on cervical cancer, HPV and the HPV vaccine is a done deal. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

We know surprisingly little about the importance, benefit and harm associated with interactions between viruses and humans.

The pattern of research in this field seems to be following a similar trajectory to that of our knowledge of bacteria and humans. Fifty years ago, with the advent of antibiotics, it was usual to consider all bacteria as potentially pathogenic and fair targets for antibiotics. We now appreciate the problems associated with antibiotic over-use, their impact on the gut microbiome and the creation of antibiotic resistant ‘superbugs’.  We also understand that we can’t live without trillions of beneficial and commensal bacteria in our gut microbiome. This microbiota includes non-bacterial microorganisms, including viruses and fungi.

Science is beginning to point towards viruses not being solely the ‘bad guys’. As genetic sequencing technologies develop, we are just beginning to understand the relevance of our virobiome and virobiota, which are closely associated with bacteria, including those several trillion that reside in a healthy gut that has not been hit with antibiotics.

This coevolution between viruses and humans goes back over millions of years. With respect to the 200 or so types of HPV, and even more specifically the so-called high risk (HR) HPV-18 strain, this relationship can be traced back at least 12,000 years.

And here’s the rub, and one of my most deep-rooted concerns. Distorting this co-evolution by way of a prophylactic, genetically modified vaccine loaded with aluminium could trigger the development of more pathogenic strains of HPV. A detailed study of the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of HPV led by Paul Orlando and colleagues at the University of Illinois in Chicago and published in 2011 concluded that “the elimination of HR HPV through vaccines may alter the evolutionary trajectory of the remaining types and promote evolution of new HR HPV types.” Therefore, it is perfectly within the realms of possibility that our prophylactic vaccine campaigns targeting HR HPV strains could result in a new dawn of super-viruses.

Equally, this interference within an ever wider range of viral strains that have co-evolved alongside humans could impact the development and maturation of our immune systems more generally. Who are we to assume that our immune systems can develop fully and properly without the viral, bacterial and fungal elements of our microbiome? Contrary towhatis commonly reported, the natural history of HPV commonly involves the transfer of HPV from mothers to their babies, a process that has clearly existed prior to the dawn of humankind.

So – let’s look before we leap. And most importantly, let’s make sure we have as much of the available and relevant data as possible in front of us before we make decisions about the welfare of our most precious assets, our young daughters – or sons.

Governments have a long way to go on this front and we need to stand shoulder to shoulder and hold them to account for withholding information.

Get the word out!

Please forward this widely, including to your loved ones, friends and political representatives, ensuring that s/he does more to ensure that information required for properly informed consent is made readily available to parents, guardians and children prior to consent being given.

Please also sign and forward our petition, Stop health authorities claiming that vaccines are ‘safe’.

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Comments

  1. As an Edinburgh Medical school trained medic, and nutritionist, I admire Dr Verkerk for his courage and integrity; & what he writes is correct, and the vaccine is a ‘business based on organized fear’. I am led to believe more girls have died from the vaccine than from the cancer, and as everyone knows, or should know, drug companies massage trial results for the only thing that matters to them..sales. Addressing the nutritional immunity of a child is the priority, as no child has yet died of that intervention.It has also been shown that HPV is transmissible via the vaccine itself, and to inject any GM material into humans is, in my medical opinion, criminal.

    1. Thank you for your support and taking the time to comment Dr Miliken, it’s always appreciated.

      Warm Regards
      Melissa Smith

  2. Shall discuss with Dr Jayne Donegan this Sunday after her talk on ‘Vaccines the question’ – of kept her job despite efforts to sack her by a GMC hearing regards her refusal to administer vaccines to this day post the Wakefield furore.-.
    Thank you for thus excellent and usably concise article and shall spread the word at my Unionised workplace. Would like to get Unite included. Curious to the issue of information versus commercial interest chestnut. Tell my Unite committee about it..Shall expand amongst my parental colleagues.and for their social networks. Thank you again ANH. Love your work.

    1. (Great article). Love the idea of getting the Unite involved. Would be really interested to know how the majority react.

      1. Hi there. I am so pleased this article is here to raise awareness of what is happening. We are a group of UK parents whose daughters all became seriously ill after the HPV vaccine. We have just set up a website and Facebook group. Please do make contact. http://Www.timeforaction.org.uk and Facebook is TimeForActionOn HPVVaccines. We are campaigning for a proper investigation in to what is going on with our girls. Proper treatment ,access to education and to be believed when we say something is seriously wrong here. We are joining forces accross Europe to fight for informed consent as parents are definitely not told the facts such as high rates of syncope and auto immune diseases seen after vaccination. We hope other Parents are told the truth. Thank you for highlighting the facts. . 3092 serious adverse effects post HPV vaccine as of June 2017 is serious. We need to research this.

        1. Hello Amanda

          Thank you for the information. Please let us know what we can do to help and support your action.

          Warm Regards
          Melissa Smith

          1. Melissa THANK YOU!! We have a crowd-funding page which is raising funds for a Spanish Himan Rights Lawyer to take a case to the EMA to push for the facts about this vaccine to be included in any consent form. We are joined by other countries and groups. Any donation no matter how small will be put to excellent use. Here’s the link https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/InformedConsent. I can’t thank you enough. This report should be given to every parent considering this vaccine. We need to get it into schools and to educate health care professionals too.

    2. Hello Nigel

      Thank you for your kind comments.

      It would be interesting to hear what Dr Donegan thinks, we know her well. Please let us know what your union think and if we can provide any support.

      Warm Regards
      Melissa Smith

  3. Just the kind of thing that the Guardian, which I have been reading happily for over 50 years, needs to wake up to after their grossly ill informed leader on vaccinations the other day. Sadly, with the likes of Trump and the american right, questioning these things, it is hard for many progressives to consider a more nuanced approach to this subject, and the whole thing gets contaminted by association.
    Well done for your thoughtful, well informed piece.

  4. How far along a false path will we persist in the belief it true – until we recognize the error that costs us truth?
    There are different levels of invested belief that are fear-directed and fear-reinforcing. The most fearfully entangled cannot ‘see’ or ‘hear’ anything fear does not dictate. Their ‘model’ of reality is a replica of their own fearful sense of separated existence. All else is sacrificed to the ‘survival’ of a sense of power and protection to escape from or avoid terror and loss. This operates a reversal in consciousness working against Life under the belief it is self-protective.
    The ‘evil’ of such a disconnected defence given power is the persistence in the idea of separation as a temporary salvation from total pain or loss – and it operates as power over Life – as if such victory could make a wish for power a real achievement.
    Alignment within Life is a result of restoring communication to a sense of fragmentation at war within itself. Those of us who are awake to that we have a true choice can witness that true power by choosing not to give power of reinforcement or acceptance to false, loveless and fear-directed thinking in praise or blame – but attend the situation as it is, address the actual issues that the situation serves to mask – and give witness to and thus grow a true sense of worth that refuses to join the sacrifice of true for a false promise of self-protection or power.
    Denied fear calls out for power to keep the fear denied – but facing fear uncovers a true need and answer.
    What is at work here but the old magic of sacrificing life to appease a god of terror – under a priesthood of deceit?
    Science without a love of truth serves the denial of true that would determine and assert its judgement and subject all else to conform or comply.
    Love is being with what is real – present and actually communicating.
    A mask is a presentation backed by emotional incentives and penalties.
    Who cannot discern one from another knows not who they are – or what they do – regardless what they do. Give to the mask of power-in-the-world what is its due – and to All Meaning give what is its due. Meaninglessness can be presented to seem to mean anything you want to believe – but thus also can you uncover what you must in fact be believing by its effect upon you.
    Life is all about love because it is all about you – but a false sense of subjection, sacrifice and struggle under fear is all about a mask made for getting – and thus forgetting and fearing of the Life that would release us from a phishing attack by which we are otherwise deceived.
    Wake up to the terrible state of a deceit running our world and then use that self-honesty to awaken in the love of true that brings a different world than fear makes ‘real’.

  5. Thanks for that well written article! Many good points and very timely. I hope everyone with young children gets involved! Educate yourself before ANY vaccines–esp. the most dangerous of all–Gardisal (all varieties).

  6. I’d be very cautious and do my own research before allowing my daughter to have the Gardasil vaccinations. I’ve spent years researching breast and cervical screening and was shocked when I compared the evidence with the screening “story” we get from doctors and others. It should be a scandal that there is so little respect for consent and informed consent in women’s cancer screening.
    Don’t assume Pap testing is a must from age 30 either, only about 5% of women aged 30 to 60 are HPV+…these are the only women with a small chance of benefiting from a 5 yearly Pap test. Almost all women aged 30 to 60 ARE hpv- and having unnecessary Pap testing. False positives are fairly common with Pap testing so all of the unnecessary Pap testing leads to excess colposcopy/biopsy and potentially harmful over-treatment. Over-screening and early screening means even more false positives, this does not benefit women, but is a fabulous source of profits for vested interests.

    There’s no need for speculum exams for most women, you can self test for hpv easily and reliably 5 times over your lifetime, at 30,35,40,50 and 60 and the roughly 5% who test hpv+ should be the only women offered a Pap test. Those hpv- and no longer sexually active or confidently monogamous might choose to stop all further testing. (Unless they take a new partner)
    The Dutch are the ones to watch…this is their cervical screening program, backed by the evidence.

    Here in Australia we seriously over-screen women, providing no additional benefit to women but resulting in a 77% lifetime risk of colposcopy/biopsy, huge numbers are over- treated. (Avoidable damage) Our new hpv program is also excessive and ignores some of the evidence. These programs in many/most countries are controlled by vested interests and do not put women first, I consider our program harmful. Note the lifetime risk of cervical cancer is less than 1%…yet this always fairly rare cancer is a major focus in women’s healthcare.

    Breast screening…the Nordic Cochrane Institute have an excellent summary of the evidence, go to their website. Over- diagnosis and over- treatment is a serious risk, the risks of screening probably exceed any benefit.
    Screening is rarely promoted to women as an option, the language is all must and should, and informed consent is impossible given the “information” provided to women.
    Why is it acceptable to treat women in this way? I believe these programs violate our legal rights and proper ethical standards.
    I have made informed decisions not to have cervical or breast cancer screening.

  7. My daughter was among the first to be ‘offered’ the HPV vaccine at her school in North-east Scotland in 20072008. I say ‘offered’ because when I withheld my consent we were both subjected to very significant harassment by the school, and my daughter was also bullied by her peers who accused her of ‘spreading cancer’.

    We did however stand our ground and my daughter — now 25 — remains very grateful that we did not give in. She was the only girl in her school year not to have the vaccine.

    It is so depressing to see that the process appears pretty much unchanged and that parents and students in the UK still cannot make a properly informed decision based on the information provided by schools and the NHS.

    I will sign your petition and share this campaign.

    1. Hi Eugenie, thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s incredibly helpful for parents such as yourself to come forward and share your story. We hope it inspires other parents or daughters to also tell us about their experience.

      Warm Regards
      Melissa

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