'I would rather be dead than like this': Teenager's agony as she is left wheelchair-bound and feeling like an '80-year-old' as her parents claim controversial HPV vaccine is to blame

By Daisy Dunne For Mailonline

8 May 2017

A nurse claims her sporty 13-year-old daughter has been left wheelchair-bound after suffering an alleged reaction to the HPV vaccine.

Heartbroken Anthea Beattie, 49, says Zara is an '80-year-old in a teenager's body' and is convinced her ill health is due to the jab, which protects against cervical cancer.

The sporty schoolgirl, once a promising footballer and netball player, began struggling for breath in a PE lesson in January last year shortly after she had been given the vaccine.

At first the family dismissed Zara's symptoms as asthma, but her health continued to deteriorate in the weeks that followed.

She suffered palpitations, felt dizzy, weak and tired, and was later diagnosed with PoTS - postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome - which makes her heart race.

Mrs Beattie said: 'It has been horrendous. She said to me, "Mum, I would rather be dead than like this." She is 13 and she said, "I feel like somebody put me in an 80-year-old's body."' 

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Zara Beattie, 13, from Wigton, Cumbria (pictured) has been left wheelchair-bound after suffering an alleged reaction to the HPV vaccine, according to her nurse mother Anthea, 49

Eighteen months on, Zara, of Wigton, Cumbria, feels faint every time she stands, is unable to leave the house without a wheelchair and is home-schooled.

Sitting at the table to eat a meal leaves her exhausted and she spends 24 hours a day seven days a week at home, unless she has a hospital appointment. 

Doctors have refused to confirm their fears, but mother-of-three Anthea and her husband Ian, 54, an engineer, believe Zara's condition was triggered by the vaccine.

Anthea, who has been forced to reduce her hours to care for Zara, said: 'I have been a nurse for 30 years and I have never heard or seen anything like this before.

'There are so many young girls now who are in the same position. I don't believe it is a coincidence.

 The teenager struggles to stand up on her own and is largely bed bound. She only leaves home for hospital appointments.  Zara's symptoms began just months after she was given the jab


There were around 3,200 new cases of cervical cancer in the UK in 2014 - around nine diagnoses every day, according to Cancer Research UK. 

As with any vaccine, there is a very small chance of a severe allergic reaction with the HPV jab, according to the Vaccine Knowledge Project at the University of Oxford.

The European Medicines Agency statistics show that up to February 2017, 11,867 reactions to Gardasil have been recorded.

Many report symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, and cases of girls being left paralysed are rare. Fatalities have been reported, reports show. 

Health authorities around the world, including the World Health Organization, have reviewed the vaccine and concluded it is safe.

Since 2008, it has routinely been offered to 12-13 year-old girls as part of the NHS cervical cancer programme. 

But it is known to protect against two common types of HPV, which are responsible for more than 70 per cent of the cases in the UK.

There are more than 3,000 new cervical cancer diagnoses each year in the UK, more than 900 of which are fatal, according to Public Health England. 

But doctors estimate that around 400 lives are saved each year as a result of vaccinating girls.

'Zara played football and she was very fit. She was full of life. She was a very active girl with a nice circle of friends.

'Now all that has changed. She has horrendous heart palpitations and horrific pain - chest pain, severe headaches and sometimes whole body pain.

'On a bad day the poor girl can't even stand up. She will stay in bed all day and crawl to the toilet. She's got a stool by the sink for when she cleans her teeth.

She said: 'In a typical week she won't leave the house unless it's for a hospital appointment. She had to stop going to school because she was absolutely wiped out.

'It has been horrendous. She said to me, "Mum, I would rather be dead than like this."'

'She is 13 and she said, "I feel like somebody put me in an 80-year-old's body."'

'Everything is so much effort for her - she has no energy whatsoever. If we do do something it knocks her out for three days afterwards.

'She is like a little old lady.'

Zara suffers from headaches, muscle and joint pain and said it feels like someone is 'hitting me on the back with a hammer'.

She said: 'I worry about the future. My friends are choosing their GCSEs and they're concerned about what they're going to do.

'I don't know how I'm going to be in five minutes let alone five years.

'It has changed everything. I don't want anyone else to have to deal with what I'm going through.'

Zara was vaccinated with Gardasil at The Nelson Thomlinson School in Wigton in October 2015.

She has since been treated for PoTS at University of Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary where doctors are unable to say what caused her illness. 

The vaccine is routinely offered to schoolgirls aged 12 and 13 and more than eight million across the UK have been vaccinated in the past eight years. 

It protects against human papillomavirus which causes cervical cancer - the most common cancer in women under 35 - and is thought to save some 400 lives each year.

Health authorities around the world agree that the evidence doesn't support a link between HPV vaccination and chronic illnesses.

But Ms Beattie, a Macmillan hospice nurse, is among a growing group of skeptics calling for better information for parents and more research into the jab.

They are one of 400 families supposedly represented by the UK Association of Vaccine Injured Daughters, which claims to campaign for government action.

Ms Beattie said: 'I try to believe that Zara will get better but this has been totally life-changing. I can't see her ever being a normal teenager again.

'The drug company are adamant that there are no side effects but that is rubbish.

'I want them to come and see my daughter who used to play football and run around, and used to have a life.'

Public Health England said the World Health Organisation, the US Centre for Disease Control, the European Medicines Regulator and UK experts have 'extensively reviewed the vaccine's safety'.

They concluded that there is 'no credible evidence of a link between the HPV vaccine and a range of chronic illnesses'.

Last month, a spokeswoman for PHE and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said: 'As with all vaccines, the safety of the HPV vaccine is under constant review.

'Every report of a suspected side effect is taken seriously.' 


A 16-year-old girl was left paralysed in three limbs and in hospital on a drip after having the controversial HPV jab, MailOnline reported last December.

Back in 2014, Ruby Shallom was vaccinated at school to protect her against cervical cancer as part of the routine NHS programme.

But just weeks later, the keen horse-rider and runner started to suffer from stomach spasms, dizziness, pain, headaches and fatigue.

Her muscles became weaker and in May 2016 - two years after she was given the jab - she woke up with no feelings in her legs whatsoever.

She has since lost all sensation in both her legs and one of her arms and is virtually bed bound - unable to eat, lift or dress herself, incontinent and often too weak to lift her head.

Doctors have been unable to diagnose her with anything and have dismissed it as being psychological, refusing to acknowledge any link to the jab. 

Her parents spoke out after former glamour model Melinda Messenger said on This Morning that she stopped her 12-year-old daughter, Evie, having the jab over fears of chronic illnesses. 

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