Mother suspects Gardasil as reason for
her daughter's serious reaction
Friday September 26 2008
BY ROBYN WILKINSON, ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER
Megan Battilana is a healthy teenage girl, so healthy in
fact that to her mother's knowledge she hadn't ever
received antibiotics in her life. But that all changed
when the 15-year-old girl was rushed to Headwaters
Health Care Centre after having what her family suspects
was an anaphylactic reaction to the widely-promoted
cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil.
Megan's mother Ruth-Ann, believes that the vaccine,
which doctors say helps protect against four types of
the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that can lead to cervical
cancer, is what caused her daughter to have difficulty
breathing one morning in May.
The Robert F. Hall Secondary School student had just
received a third round of the vaccination at her Bolton
family doctor's office, and as had occurred during the
two previous shots, she came down with a mild fever and
extremely sore spot at the injection site, her mother
told The Enterprise. Symptoms like these, doctors
report, can be expected in some patients, not only after
receiving the Gardasil vaccine, but any vaccination.
After her inoculation that took place around 8 p.m.,
Battilana said she was awoken by her daughter around 5
a.m. May 8.
"She said, 'mom, I don't feel good'," the concerned
mother recalls. "She had a raging fever and then she
started having trouble breathing and we called an
By the time Peel paramedics arrived at their Palgrave
home, the anxious family had already searched the
Internet for potential side effects of Gardasil, and
found that in rare cases, some young women had reported
allergic reactions to the vaccine, including difficulty
According to Battilana, paramedics seemed baffled as to
why her 15-year-old daughter was under duress and asked
her to print the information she had found off the
"They treated it as if she was having an allergic
reaction to something," said Battilana. "And by the time
we'd gotten to the hospital, it (the reaction) had
calmed right down."
While she had no concerns with the way her daughter's
health was handled by medical staff that day,
Battilana's concerns were with the lack of information
about the vaccine's potential side effects.
A recent study conducted by researchers in Australia and
published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal
found a higher than average rate of severe allergic
reaction in young New South Wales women who had been
vaccinated with HPV.
In Ontario, there haven't been any reported cases of bad
reactions, which is why Battilana believes doctors and
paramedics weren't sure what had caused her daughter to
have, what she suspects is an allergic reaction to the
Peel's Associate Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen
de Villa informed The Enterprise there have been no
reported cases in Peel, let alone in Ontario.
"We've looked into it and there's been no reporting to
that effect," de Villa said of possible cases of
patients experiencing severe allergic reactions known as
anaphylaxis to the Gardasil vaccine. In fact, according
to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there have been
no reported cases across Canada.
"One has to look at each situation on an individual
basis," said the doctor, and without having examined
the patient, she was unable to comment on the
"The situation was serious enough for us to call an
ambulance and that is something that you don't do
lightly," said Battilana, adding that there was "no
doubt in her mind," what caused the reaction.
Although the experience left her shaken, the mother said
she would still want to have her child vaccinated with
"Anything I can do to protect her from getting something
in the future I would do," said Battilana. "Some people
would say 'it's brand new, you should wait to see what
happens,' but it's a now or never kind of thing."
As a concerned mother, Battilana wants other parents to
know of her family's ordeal, especially with the new
school year underway and Grade 8 girls receiving free
HPV shots from the Region of Peel.
"If it happened to another girl in our area, I think the
parents should know what they might be dealing with."