12:59pm Friday 3rd October 2008
As thousands of young girls across Sussex undergo a series of jabs to protect them against cervical cancer, one mother has urged parents to educate themselves about the risks involved.
Reporter Samuel Underwood talks to her about why she is concerned about the vaccine and why her daughters will not been immunised.
Jacqui Andrews is like any other mother – doting on her children, devoting much of her life to their welfare and putting their safety and health first.
But unlike most parents, she has taken the bold step of refusing to have her eldest daughter Jasmine immunised against the human papilloma virus (HPV).
Cervarix vaccine is made by GlaxoSmithKline, which has a factory in Crawley.
The vaccine is being given to girls aged 11 and 12 across the country in a Government bid to protect against the virus which can cause cervical cancer.
But Mrs Andrews, 39, from Hove, claimed it had not been properly tested, was not proven to work and could lead to further health problems.
She said: “When the immunisation campaign started about six months ago I thought I would look on the internet to find out a bit more about the vaccine and what was involved.
“I was shocked to find details of the side-effects and possible health impacts of it and also to see that there was no proof that it would actually protect girls from cervical cancer.”
As she delved deeper into the issue, Mrs Andrews found that a similar vaccine, Gardasil, had been given to girls in America and that numerous law suits had been filed by parents whose daughters had adverse reactions to the vaccine.
Twenty girls died within a few days of receiving Gardasil, which has a similar make-up to Cervarix, although the deaths were dismissed as coincidence by the manufacturer, Merck.
Side-effects of both vaccines listed by their manufacturers include fainting, dizziness and sore arms.
She said: “In America it’s mandatory that girls are immunised and some are told they cannot go to school unless they have been.
“I’m concerned. The girls are too young. They are not sexually active yet and their bodies are still developing.
“You can have the vaccine up to the age of 55, so why not wait until they are old enough to make the decision for themselves?
“It is a dead virus that they are being injected with but Cervarix has got aluminium in it, which is a heavy metal that can cause joint problems and auto-immune responses.”
She added: “It is so controversial. I just want parents to be informed. They need to find out what exactly is being injected into their children before they have it done so that they can make an informed choice.”
Mrs Andrews said she made that choice early on in her eldest daughter’s life and after having her immunised against polio, decided to go no further.
She said her GP tried to convince her that immunisation was the right path but she stuck to her guns and has raised Jasmine, and her younger sister Isobella, four, without vaccines.
She said: “I think it’s irresponsible of the Government to push this vaccine forward when it has not been properly tested yet and may do more harm than good. It’s scaremongering in order to make a profit for the drug companies and should not be allowed.
“I think the Government should do more to encourage screening for cervical cancer and promote smear tests to get more women to have them regularly rather than injecting every girl with a vaccine that might not be safe.”
Mrs Andrews said she was aware of several natural remedies that were available to protect against the HPV virus, including Amazonian bark lapacho, also known as paud’arco.
She said: “All I want is for parents to make an informed decision about their daughters’ health and not to follow the Government’s plans like sheep.
“As long as they know the risks and are aware of what could happen before they go ahead with it then they will be able to make the choice that is right for them.”
Anyone who wants to get in contact with Mrs Andrews should email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.