Tag: HPV vaccines

Who Is Judy Mikovits?

Dr. Judy Mikovits has a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, doing her thesis on Negative Regulation of HIV Expression in Monocytes.

She had several papers published with Dr. Frank Ruscetti, with whom she continues to work.

Instead of research, it seems that they now do:

  • Advocacy for vaccine injury legal cases worldwide. 
  • Research and documentation on medical exemptions for vaccinations.

What happened?

Who Is Judy Mikovits?

After working at the National Cancer Institute, it seems that Judy Mikovits became research director of the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI).

A paper by Mikovits and Ruscetti was retracted because no one else could replicate the work.

She was eventually fired after a paper she was lead author on, which found xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) in patients with CFS, was retracted and the institute accused her of stealing notebooks and manipulating data.

“But the leader of the team that authored the 2009 paper, researcher Judy Mikovits, apparently presented the same figure — carrying different labels and supporting a different point — in a talk given at a conference on Sept. 23 in Ottawa.”

Manipulation alleged in paper linking virus, chronic fatigue syndrome

An even larger study found no evidence of XMRV infections in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, even as she had claimed the virus could cause CFS, Parkinson’s disease, autism and multiple sclerosis.

The source of XMRV in her patients?

“Well-controlled experiments showed that detection of XMRV was due to contaminated samples and was not a marker of or a causal factor in prostate cancer or CFS.”

Johnson et al on Xenotropic Murine Leukemia Virus-Related Virus (XMRV) and the Safety of the Blood Supply

The virus was in a contaminated cell line in which she and others were doing research. The virus wasn’t in the actual patients themselves.

Judy Mikovits on Vaccines

Before her paper was retracted and she was fired from her lab, Judy Mikovits did actually do research on viruses and she is a scientist. She didn’t do research on vaccines though.

Judy Mikovits is still finding retroviruses wherever she looks for them...
Judy Mikovits is still finding retroviruses wherever she looks for them…

That seems to be something she talks about a lot now though:

  • at anti-vaccine rallies
  • at anti-vaccine conferences
  • in anti-vaccine videos

Her claim to fame seems to be talking about contaminated vaccines and bashing Gardasil. And deep state conspiracy theories about why she was arrested and lost her job.

To be clear, a rotavirus vaccine was found to be contaminated with DNA of porcine circovirus type 1.  While that might sound a little scary, it is important to keep in mind that the PCV1 virus doesn’t actually cause disease in people and these weren’t even “biologically active virus particles.”

PCV1 isn’t a retrovirus though and Judy Mikovits wasn’t even the researcher who discovered the contamination, which has since been resolved. 

“These findings do not indicate the presence of either ALV or EAV infection in MMR vaccine recipients and provide support for current immunization policies.”

Hussain et al on Lack of Evidence of Endogenous Avian Leukosis Virus and Endogenous Avian Retrovirus Transmission to Measles Mumps Rubella Vaccine Recipients

Studies have looked at retrovirus contamination of vaccines, but they were  done over 17 years ago. And not by Mikovits. Studies that confirmed that vaccines are safe.

None of this has kept Judy Mikovits from scaring people about vaccines, especially the HPV vaccine.

“Cervical cancer is not a public health threat. It’s not an infectious disease. Why is it in the Department of Public Health? Why are we mandating every child over 9 years old, and I heard soon to be pregnant women, to get this vaccine? It makes no sense.”

Judy Mikovits

It is really hard to understand how someone who worked at the National Cancer Institute could make these statements. Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women.

There is, of course, no mandate for 9-year-olds to get the HPV vaccine. In the United States, HPV vaccination is recommended, beginning at age 11 to 12 years. The HPV vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women and while several vaccines are recommended, no vaccines are actually mandated in pregnancy.

“It was never developed to prevent cancer. It was developed and approved to prevent warts. Warts are not a public health threat. It’s beyond… When scientists like myself, and I work in cancer and AIDS hear this, we are just…”

Judy Mikovits

Gardasil and Cervarix were developed to prevent HPV infections, which cause cervical cancer. HPV can also cause genital warts.

“I think we need to ban… Japan and India have, all HPV vaccinations now, until the appropriate studies are done, until the patients are tested…”

Judy Mikovits

Neither Japan nor India have banned HPV vaccinations.

Why should we? The HPV vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary.

And why would anyone listen to Judy Mikovits? 

More on Judy Mikovits

Should You Get an Extra Dose of Gardasil9?

Believe it or not, the first human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was approved way back in 2006.

HPV Vaccine is Cancer Prevention.

And believe it or not, we are now on our third version of the vaccine, which provides protection against even more strains of HPV.

HPV Vaccine Timeline

So we have gone from:

  • Cervarix – HPV serotypes 16, 18 (2006)
  • Gardasil – HPV serotypes 6, 11, 16, 18 (2006)
  • Gardasil9 – HPV serotypes 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58 (2014)

And with each new vaccine, there comes more protection against anal and genital warts and anal, genital, head and neck, and cervical cancers.

Gardasil9, the only HPV vaccine available in the United States, increases the protection level against cervical cancer from 70 to 90%!

Should You Get an Extra Dose of Gardasil9?

Has your child already finished their HPV vaccine series?

With which HPV vaccine?

To be clear, if they have finished the series, then they are considered to be fully vaccinated and protected.

“Persons who have completed a valid series with any HPV vaccine do not need any additional doses.”

National Cancer Institute on Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines

Remember, the key, high-risk strains that cause most HPV-associated cancer are HPV-16 and 18, which are present in all of the HPV vaccines.

The extra coverage in Gardasil9 to HPV strains 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58 could prevent an additional 10% of invasive HPV associated cancers or about 3,800 cases each year though, mostly in women.

Should you get any extra doses of Gardasil9 for this extra coverage?

“Administration of a 3-dose regimen of 9vHPV vaccine to adolescent girls and young women 12-26 years of age who are prior qHPV vaccine recipients is highly immunogenic with respect to HPV types 31/33/45/52/58 and generally well tolerated.”

Garland et al on Safety and immunogenicity of a 9-valent HPV vaccine in females 12-26 years of age who previously received the quadrivalent HPV vaccine.

While safe to do and it works, there is no formal recommendation that anyone actually get any extra doses of Gardasil9 at this time.

It is something to consider if you want the extra protection though.

Will we get even more coverage in future HPV vaccines? The future might come in different types of vaccines or even in therapeutic vaccines. There doesn’t seem to be a new version of Gardasil with expanded strain coverage in the immediate pipeline though.

More on Getting an Extra Dose of HPV9

Does HPV Vaccination Decrease the Chances You Will Get a Pap Test?

HPV vaccines, including Gardasil and Cervarix, can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer.

That doesn’t mean that you can stop getting Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer though.

Why not?

Vaccines are not 100% effective and while the HPV vaccines protect against the strains of HPV that are most likely to cause cervical cancer, they don’t include every single strain.

Does HPV Vaccination Decrease the Chances You Will Get a Pap Test?

Again, HPV vaccines don’t replace pap tests.

Whether or not a woman is vaccinated, if they have no extra risk factors (can mean extra screening), they should have:

  • their first Pap test at age 21 years, to look for cell changes on the cervix that can be a sign of precancers (was previously at age 18 years if sexually active)
  • a Pap test every 3 years from age 21 through 29 years (was previously done every year)
  • a Pap test with HPV cotesting (actually tests for the presence of HPV in cervical cells) every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years from age 30 through 65 years

This routine testing can help find precancers before they turn into cervical cancer.

Why would anyone stop getting a pap test after getting vaccinated?

They shouldn’t.

Some folks worry that they might though, because those who are vaccinated might think they are at lower risk to get HPV and cervical cancer.

#SaidNoDoctor, except Dr. Jay Gordon, who made this statement about the HPV vaccine on the Ricki Lake Show.
#SaidNoDoctor, except Dr. Jay Gordon, who made this statement about the HPV vaccine on the Ricki Lake Show.

Fortunately, most studies show that this doesn’t happen. Not surprisingly, studies have also confirmed that HPV vaccines are safe and they don’t encourage kids to have unprotected sex.

And data from the National Center of Health Statistics show that a steady number of women over age 18 years have been getting Pap tests since 1987. Numbers did drop a bit recently for young women between the ages of 18 to 24 years, but that coincides with the 2003 and 2012 changes for when to get Pap testing.

What makes this all a bit confusing is that there are actually some suggestions that women who have been vaccinated at an early age (before they are sexually active), with the newest HPV vaccines (cover more HPV types) might actually be able to get HPV testing instead of a Pap test, can start getting tested at a later age, and can get fewer tests.

None of those are formal recommendations though, so women should keep getting their Pap tests on schedule, whether or not they have been vaccinated.

What about reports of increased rates of cervical cancer in Sweden that are linked to an increase in HPV vaccination rates?

Lars Adersson became a pseudonym when he was outed as not being associated with Karolinska Institute.
Lars Andersson became a pseudonym when he was outed as not being associated with Karolinska Institute.

 

In addition to fake credentials, the author came to bogus conclusions, as although there has been an increase in rates of cervical cancer in some of the smaller counties in Sweden, it is thought to be due to differences in regional cancer prevention. To put it more simply, if it was due to getting vaccinated, then since immunization rates aren’t that different in those counties (just like immunization rates vs autism rates in the United States), then why didn’t rates of cervical cancer go up everywhere?

“Joakim Dillner, professor of infectious epidemiology at Karolinska Institute and register holder for the National Quality Register for Cervical Cancer Prevention and Analysis, says, however, to the Medical Journal that there is nothing in the allegations that the increase would be due to HPV vaccination.”

KI investigates suspected false scientist: “Extremely serious”

Of note, Sweden, recently had the highest participation in their cervical cancer screening program ever, at 82.4% of the population.

“HPV-vaccination is so far associated with equal or higher attendance to cervical screening in Sweden in a cohort of opportunistically vaccinated young women.”

Herweijer et al on The Participation of HPV-Vaccinated Women in a National Cervical Screening Program: Population-Based Cohort Study

So much for the idea that getting an HPV vaccine decreases your likelihood of getting a Pap test…

What to Know About HPV Vaccines and Pap Testing

Although HPV vaccines can decrease your risk of cervical cancer, that shouldn’t influence your decision to get a Pap test.

More on HPV Vaccines and Pap Testing

Can Vaccines Cause Cancer?

We know that several vaccines can prevent cancer, including the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines and hepatitis B vaccine.

A cancer treatment vaccine, Provenge, has also been approved by the FDA to treat metastatic prostate cancer. Others are in development.

What Causes Cancer?

It seems like everything causes cancer, doesn’t it?

Did you see the media reports about coffee?

“Cancer is a complex group of diseases with many possible causes.”

American Cancer Society on What Causes Cancer?

Some of the most common causes of cancer include:

  • genetic mutations
  • smoking and tobacco
  • heavy alcohol use
  • unprotected exposure to UV rays in sunlight
  • infections

Fortunately, we can protect ourselves from many of these common causes of cancer.

Can Vaccines Cause Cancer?

Vaccines don’t cause cancer, but that doesn’t stop anti-vaccine websites from saying that they do.

“Cancer is part of our new normal. One in two men and one in three women will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetimes. But it’s not just adults. If you can’t bring yourself to focus on this topic for you, please do it for your children.”

Louise Kuo Habakus (Fearless Parent) on Do Vaccines Cause Cancer?

Cancer can definitely become part of your “new normal” if you or a friend or family member gets diagnosed.

National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program cancer statistics.
National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program cancer statistics.

Fortunately, cancer rates have been stable, with declining mortality rates. In children, cancer rates have been rising, but only slightly, and nothing like the boom in rates that some folks describe.

Anti-vaccine folks promote the idea that more people are sick, more people have cancer, and in general, everyone is unhealthy, because it fits with their idea that vaccines are dangerous for everyone.

How do they link vaccines and cancer?

They often push the idea that vaccines cause cancer because the original polio vaccines were found to be contaminated with SV40, or simian virus 40. SV40 has not been linked to cancer though.

What about formaldehyde?

Some vaccines contain formaldehyde and formaldehyde is carcinogenic, so how can you say that vaccines don’t cause cancer?

While some vaccines do contain formaldehyde, remember that it is also naturally found in our bodies.

“Carcinogens do not cause cancer at all times, under all circumstances.”

American Cancer Society

It is the long-term exposure to high amounts of formaldehyde, usually inhaled formaldehyde, that is the big concern. Those most at risk would be workers who might be exposed to inhaled formaldehyde. The small amount of formaldehyde in vaccines is safe and does not cause cancer.

Another anti-vaccine talking point? Misusing vaccine package inserts to make you think that vaccines aren’t properly evaluated for mutagenicity and carcinogenicity.

“To ensure the safety of new vaccines, preclinical toxicology studies are conducted prior to the initiation of, and concurrently with, clinical studies. There are five different types of preclinical toxicology study in the evaluation of vaccine safety: single and/or repeat dose, reproductive and developmental, mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, and safety pharmacology. If any adverse effects are observed in the course of these studies, they should be fully evaluated and a final safety decision made accordingly. ”

M.D. Green on the Preclinical Toxicology of Vaccines

They are.

Vaccines are safe and necessary. They don’t cause cancer.

What to Know About Vaccines and Cancer

Several vaccines can prevent cancer and there is even a vaccine that can treat cancer. Vaccines don’t cause cancer though.

More on Vaccines and Cancer

The Catholic Church and Vaccines

We hear a lot about the Catholic Church and vaccines.

The Catholic Church teaches that it is lawful to get vaccinated to protect
The Catholic Church teaches that it is lawful to get vaccinated to protect “our children, public health, and the common good.” The National Catholic Bioethics Center

Maybe it is because Pope Francis led a polio vaccine campaign when he visited Mexico.

Pope Francis helped launch a polio vaccine campaign when he visited Mexico in 2016.
Pope Francis helped launch a polio vaccine campaign when he visited Mexico in 2016.

Or because Pope Francis thanked members of the Rotary International during an Audience at the Vatican, where the Pope “emphasized the importance of vaccinations against polio and urged Rotary to continue.”

History of the Catholic Church and Vaccines

Pope Francis isn’t the first Pope to promote vaccination.

Way back in the early 1800s, Pope Pius VII said the smallpox vaccine was “a precious discovery which ought to be a new motive for human gratitude to Omnipotence.”

But wasn’t there an anti-vaccine pope too?

Some claimed that Pope Leo XII had said that “Whoever allows himself to be vaccinated ceases to be a child of God. Smallpox is a judgment of God, the vaccination is a challenge toward heaven.

He didn’t say it though – the anti-vax edict from the Pope was imaginary!

There was no anti-vaccine pope.

Endorsement of vaccination by the Catholic Church had started long before the smallpox vaccine. As early as the 1720s, Jesuits were inoculating Indians in the Amazon against smallpox.

Other noteworthy events in the history of the Catholic Church related to vaccines include:

  • 1757 – Pope Benedict XIV was inoculated against smallpox
  • 1780s – introduction of public vaccinations by the archbishop of Bamberg, Germany
  • 1821 – Council of Vaccination
  • 1800s – priests routinely led processions of people to get vaccinated against smallpox
  • 1862 – Catholic missionaries vaccinated the Quwutsun in the Pacific Northwest

Sean Phillips, in examining the records of the Osler Library, has also found “a story of close cooperation between clergy and the state from the earliest stages of the vaccine in France…” That was important, because when smallpox epidemics were raging, the clergy functioned “as a conduit between the medical community and the majority of cities, towns, and communes in France throughout the nineteenth century.”

Vaccines and Abortion

Of course, one of the main reasons that vaccines and the Catholic Church comes up at all is because of abortion.

The Pontifical Academy for Life reaffirmed the "lawfulness" of using vaccines to protect children and those around them.
The Pontifical Academy for Life reaffirmed the “lawfulness” of using vaccines to protect children and those around them.

What does abortion have to do with vaccines?

While much of what you hear about abortion and vaccines isn’t true, some of it is:

  • Vaccines do not contain aborted fetal tissue.
  • Some vaccines are made in cell lines that originated from fetuses that were aborted over 40 years ago.
  • These vaccines are made in descendent cells from either the WI-38 and MRC-5 cell lines, which have been duplicated over and over again and are grown independently. So, “it is important to note that descendent cells are not the cells of the aborted child.”
  • The descendent cells don’t remain in the final vaccine after it has been purified.

It should be clear now why they say that these vaccines are said to have a “distant association with abortion.”

“For its part, Catholic social teaching entails a duty to vaccinate in order to protect the vulnerable.”

Paul J. Carson on Catholic Social Teaching and the Duty to Vaccinate

And why it is said that Catholics are “morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion” and that “it should be obvious that vaccine use in these cases does not contribute directly to the practice of abortion since the reasons for having an abortion are not related to vaccine preparation.”

“Since there is no Catholic teaching that the use of these vaccines is sinful, schools cannot allow Catholic parents to claim a religious exemption from the requirement of immunization.”

National Catholic Bioethics Center on Vaccines and Exemptions Granted by Schools

Catholics can seek an alternative vaccine when available and “register a complaint with the manufacturer of the products as an acceptable form of conscientious objection,” but the The National Catholic Bioethics Center states that “there is no moral obligation to register such a complaint in order to use these vaccines.”

Not only are we morally free to get vaccinated and vaccinate our kids, but the National Catholic Bioethics Center says that parents actually “have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.”

What to Know About the Catholic Church and Vaccines

From measles to HPV, the Catholic Church recommends that your family be vaccinated and protected.

More About the Catholic Church and Vaccines

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Can Vaccines Cause POTS?

Have you ever heard of POTS?

“In POTS, the lightheadedness or fainting is also accompanied by a rapid increase in heartbeat of more than 30 beats per minute, or a heart rate that exceeds 120 beats per minute, within 10 minutes of rising.”

NIH Postural Tachycardia Syndrome Information Page

POTS or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome was first identified in the early 1990s and can cause many debilitating symptoms, such as dizziness, headaches, and fatigue.

What Causes POTS?

We don’t know what causes POTS.

“The term “POTS” was coined in 1993 by a team of researchers from Mayo Clinic, led by neurologist Dr. Philip Low. However, POTS is not a new illness; it has been known by other names throughout history, such as DaCosta’s Syndrome, Soldier’s Heart, Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome, Neurocirculatory Asthenia, Chronic Orthostatic Intolerance, Orthostatic Tachycardia and Postural Tachycardia Syndrome.”

Dysautonomia International on POTS

Well, we know that POTS is caused by a malfunction of the patient’s autonomic nervous system (dysautonomia), but we don’t know always know what causes or triggers that malfunction.

Sometimes we do though, as POTS has been associated with other types of dysautonomia, like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Mast Cell Disorders.

And genetics may play a role in some people with POTS.

Can Vaccines Cause POTS?

It shouldn’t be surprising that some folks think that vaccines could be associated with POTS.

“Anyone at any age can develop POTS, but the majority of individuals affected (between 75 and 80 percent) are women between the ages of 15 to 50 years of age.”

NIH Postural Tachycardia Syndrome Information Page

That’s right.

As more people were becoming aware of POTS, some of them were getting vaccinated for HPV.

But that correlation certainly doesn’t mean that vaccines cause POTS.

“POTS is a condition that causes lightheadedness or fainting and a rapid increase in heartbeat upon standing. The cause is unknown, but doctors think POTS may be associated with a number of risk factors and syndromes, including: a recent viral illness, physical deconditioning, chronic fatigue syndrome and nervous system problems.”

CDC on Can HPV vaccines cause POTS?

And studies have confirmed that, including:

  • In 2015, the European Medical Association confirmed evidence that HPV vaccines do not cause complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)
  • A review of VAERS reports that “did not detect any unusual or unexpected reporting patterns that would suggest a safety problem” with HPV vaccination, including extra cases of POTS
  • A study in the UK using the MHRA’s Yellow Card passive surveillance scheme found no increase in reports of chronic fatigue syndromes following the introduction of Cervarix
  • A large, nationwide register-based study from Norway found no indication of increased risk of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis following HPV vaccination
  • A large cohort study of over 2 million young girls in France found no risk for autoimmune diseases (including neurological, rheumatological, hematological, endocrine, and gastro-intestinal disorders)
  • A large cohort study of girls in Sweden with pre-existing autoimmune diseases found that HPV vaccination was not associated with increased incidence of new-onset autoimmune disease (49 types of autoimmune diseases)

Contrast those large studies that are evidence against any association between vaccines and POTS with the case reports, anecdotal evidence, and vaccine scare stories that say there is.

“There is currently no conclusive evidence to support a causal relationship between the HPV vaccine and POTS. It is of utmost importance to recognize that although temporal associations may be observed, conclusions of causality cannot be drawn from case reports and case series due to the small sample size and lack of control population inherent to this type of scientific literature. If POTS does develop after receiving the HPV vaccine, it would appear to do so in a small subset of individuals and would be difficult to distinguish from the normal prevalence and incidence of the disorder.”

Butts et al on Human Papillomavirus Vaccine and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome: A Review of Current Literature

What about other vaccines? Could they cause POTS?

Folks should remember that a case report is basically a gloried anecdote and is not the kind of evidence you should use to make decisions about vaccinating and protecting your kids.
Folks should remember that a case report is basically a gloried anecdote and is not the kind of evidence you should use to make decisions about vaccinating and protecting your kids.

While the focus has been on the HPV vaccines, an issue with other vaccines causing POTS would have been picked up with our current vaccine safety systems.

But why has the focus been on the HPV vaccines?

It is an easy association to notice, after all POTS begins to occur right around when the HPV vaccines are given (teen years) and the HPV vaccines are given in many different countries. Most other vaccines that we give to teens in the United States, including Tdap and the meningococcal vaccines, aren’t as widely used in other countries.

But remember, POTS isn’t a new diagnosis. That anti-vaccine groups are latching onto it to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids is.

What to Know About Vaccines and POTS

There is no evidence that vaccines, especially the HPV vaccines, cause POTS.

More on Vaccines and POTS

Retracted Anti-Vaccine Studies

Everyone knows that Andy Wakefield‘s fraudulent MMR study was retracted.

Andrew Wakefield was the lead author on his retracted paper.
Andrew Wakefield was the lead author on his retracted paper.

That’s the study that got folks scared into thinking that vaccines are associated with autism.

Surprisingly, it’s not the only one…

Retracted Anti-Vaccine Studies

Actually, it shouldn’t be surprising at all.

Most studies that are touted by the anti-vaccine movement are poorly done and often flawed.

And they include these other papers and studies that have been retracted:

Is it a coincidence that all of the researchers who have had papers retracted seem to get funding from the CMSRI?

What else has been retracted?

The “Deadly Immunity” article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

And the survey, “Vaccination and Health Outcomes: A Survey of 6- to 12-year-old Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Children based on Mothers’ Reports,” was originally retracted by Frontiers in Public Health before finding a home at another journal under a different name. That journal quickly retracted it too, but they then published the “fatally flawed” paper for some reason.

What to Know About Retracted Anti-Vaccine Studies

Many of the heroes of the anti-vaccine movement have published fatally-flawed studies that have been later retracted.

More on Retracted Anti-Vaccine Studies