Cynthia A. Janak
April 6, 2012
Anaphylaxis and HPV vaccines, what do they have in common?
By Cynthia A. Janak

During the last several months I have been researching anaphylaxis reactions and symptoms. The reason for this interest is that back in the middle of December, 2011, I experienced an anaphylaxis reaction to an over the counter pain reliever that I never had a problem to in the past.

Within 30 minutes after ingestion I had symptoms of flushing (hot sensations) in remote areas of my body and sensations that I cannot describe except for feeling strange. When I realized that I was experiencing flushing I knew immediately that I was having a reaction. I looked at my clock and saw that it was within the 30 minute window for any ingested drug reaction. I knew that time was of the essence and drove myself to the hospital which was only 5 minutes away. (I do not recommend this for everyone. I know my abilities and the hospital was very close.) When I pulled into the emergency area entrance I started to have vision abnormalities. Upon parking my car at the door tingling was starting to happen throughout my body. I started to use controlled breathing because I knew that if I did not I would faint right at the entrance where no one would see me. I believe that practicing meditation is what saved me from more severe symptoms and bought me time to get to the hospital for treatment.

I now giggle at the receptionist. When I told her what was happening she told me to go sit down in a chair that was no more than 10 feet away. I looked at it with my strange vision occurrences and told her that there was no way I could make it to the chair. I wish I could have seen the look on her face. I kind of saw her walk away from the counter area as I was gripping the top of the counter with all the strength I could muster. I was not going to let go and end up on the floor. The weakness and tingling in my legs was pretty bad.

Next thing I know is that I felt something hit the back of my legs and someone said you can sit down. There is a wheelchair behind you. Needless to say I was extremely relieved and I immediately plopped down in the wheelchair.

They immediately took me to the nurse in that little intake room for lack of a better term. There the tingling got worse. I noticed that speaking was becoming a little difficult and nausea started. After she took my blood pressure, etc., I was immediately taken to a room in emergency where they helped me get onto a bed because walking was difficult due to the severe tingling and now numbness in my extremities. When they took my blood pressure it was 90 over something. It was hard to concentrate at that time.

The doctor was so nice and so were the staff. The doctor confirmed what I knew when she saw the rash that was spreading over my torso. She immediately prescribed the necessary drugs to counteract the anaphylactic reaction. They worked and I went home about one hour and a half later without symptoms.

Why am I telling you this you are wondering? It is because of this experience I started to make the connection between anaphylaxis and Gardasil .

Many of the young people and parents that I have spoken with have told me about the vision, tingling and the drop in blood pressure. Some experience cognitive problems, nausea and rashes after receiving the vaccine. These are symptoms that I experienced and it was diagnosed as anaphylaxis.

My question is: Why are not the symptoms experienced by the Gardasil/Cervarix Girls and Boys being considered as an anaphylactic reaction to the vaccine? It is obvious to me that if the symptoms are the same then the diagnosis should be the same, right?

Let us get into the meat of the subject.

It is a known fact that it takes around 15 to 30 minutes for any ingested drug to get into the system because digestion. A vaccine bypasses this process and enters the body immediately by injection so the symptoms should start to appear within minutes.

It is my opinion that is why the physician product information sheets say under Warnings and Precautions, "Because vaccinees may develop syncope, sometimes resulting in falling with injury, observation for 15 minutes after administration is recommended. Syncope, sometimes associated with tonic-clonic movements and other seizure-like activity, has been reported following vaccination with GARDASIL. When syncope is associated with tonic-clonic movements, the activity is usually transient and typically responds to restoring cerebral perfusion by maintaining a supine or Trendelenburg position. (5.1)" (1)

Now what is syncope? "Syncope is a medical term used to describe a temporary loss of consciousness due to the sudden decline of blood flow to the brain. Syncope is commonly called fainting or "passing out." If an individual is about to faint, he or she will feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseous and their field of vision may "white out" or "black out." The skin may be cold and clammy. The person drops to the floor as he or she loses consciousness. After fainting, an individual may be unconscious for a minute or two, but will revive and slowly return to normal. Syncope can occur in otherwise healthy people and affects all age groups, but occurs more often in the elderly." (2)

Now Merck would like you to think that the young people that experience "fainting" is because of fear and it is all in their heads. Well, I beg to differ with their assumption. I believe that it is an anaphylactic reaction to the vaccine by my own experiences and what I have been told by people who experienced this after receiving the vaccine.

What I did not know was that there are different levels of anaphylactic reactions. "Anaphylaxis is defined by a number of signs and symptoms, alone or in combination, which occur within minutes, or up to a few hours, after exposure to a provoking agent. It can be mild, moderate to severe, or severe. Most cases are mild but any anaphylaxis has the potential to become life-threatening." (3)

Common symptoms of a mild allergic reaction include: (4)
  • Hives (especially over the neck and face)

  • Itching

  • Nasal congestion

  • Rashes

  • Watery, red eyes
Symptoms of a moderate or severe reaction include: (4)
  • Cramps or pain in the abdomen

  • Chest discomfort or tightness

  • Diarrhea

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Dizziness or light-headedness

  • Fear or feeling of apprehension or anxiety

  • Flushing or redness of the face

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Palpitations

  • Swelling of the face, eyes, or tongue

  • Weakness

  • Wheezing

  • Unconsciousness
Above I have underlined my symptoms and I have put in bold the symptoms that the young people have experienced after administration of the HPV vaccines. Looking at these reactions as stated by Gardasil Girls and Boys in this manner puts a whole new light on what could really going on with the HPV vaccines.

What I found interesting on this page of the website is what they said about prevention. "Avoid triggers such as foods and medications that have caused an allergic reaction (even a mild one) in the past." (4) So why are doctors still administering the HPV vaccine after a person has a reaction? According to the NIH any further administering of these vaccines should be avoided. "Although first-time exposure may only produce a mild reaction, repeated exposures may lead to more serious reactions. Once a person has had an exposure or an allergic reaction (is sensitized), even a very limited exposure to a very small amount of allergen can trigger a severe reaction." (4) Interesting, the HPV vaccines are given in a three dose regimen no matter what it seems.

The doctor that I had at the hospital told me that I needed to watch for a secondary reaction up to 7 days after this incident. Now I have not been able to find information on this to confirm. So all you have is my word on this. I was prescribed medication to thwart this occurrence.

Here is one more interesting piece from the NIH. "However, some reactions can occur after several hours, particularly if the allergen causes a reaction after it has been eaten. In very rare cases, reactions develop after 24 hours." (4)

I also found another interesting possibility and that is serum sickness. "Serum sickness is the name for symptoms that result from a delayed immune system response,..." "Serum sickness is a reaction similar to an allergy. Specifically, it is an immune system reaction to certain medications, ..." "Certain medications (such as penicillin, cefaclor, and sulfa) can cause a similar reaction. Unlike other drug allergies, which occur very soon after receiving the medication again, serum sickness develops 7–21 days after the first exposure to a medication." (6)

Once again the symptoms are similar to those experienced by some of the recipients of the HPV vaccines. Could this just be a coincidence to some of the reports that state the symptoms started days after injection with the HPV vaccine?

Signs and Symptoms: (7)

The first signs of serum sickness are redness and itching at the injection site. Other signs and symptoms include:
  • Skin rash, hives

  • Joint pain

  • Fever

  • Malaise (feeling unwell)

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Itching

  • Wheezing

  • Flushing

  • Diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramping
What Causes It?:

Antigens, proteins the body mistakenly identifies as harmful, cause your immune system to produce antibodies. These antibodies bind with the antigens and build up on the layers of cells that line the heart, blood vessels, lymph vessels, and other body cavities. This causes inflammation and other symptoms of serum sickness. (7)

To me this is a scary thought that a reaction can happen after the person left the doctor's office. What if they are driving a car and have a reaction? I feel that the FDA because of this statement by the NIH should require a recommendation be placed on the Physicians Product Insert that people receiving the HPV vaccines should not drive or operate any machinery and that they should be monitored by a parent or some other person for 24 hours at least.

To add insult to injury serum sickness could be caused by an anaphylactic reaction. "The timing of events in this patient suggests that immunotherapy initiated a chain of events beginning with anaphylaxis and leading to serum sickness. It is hypothesized that the enhanced vascular permeability that accompanied the anaphylaxis allowed immune complexes that may have preexisted in the circulation to deposit in the blood vessels of the patient." (8)

This all makes me wonder if the enhanced immune responses by the HPV vaccines have the potential to cause a mild anaphylactic reaction which in turn may lead into serum sickness.

One little tidbit that I found interesting is from the National Jewish Health website. "Women appear to have an increased risk for adverse drug reactions." (5)

It is my opinion that what the HPV vaccines and anaphylaxis have in common is the symptoms. I feel that these symptoms are not being recognized for what they truly are and the FDA, Merck and doctors have the potential to be putting patients at risk.

You decide for yourselves. Look at the information provided and do your own research.

Final questions: Considering that the high titers (levels) are supposed to be sustained for a period of at least 5–7 years do the recipients of the vaccines have the potential to have a prolonged mild anaphylactic reaction or serum sickness? If so could these reactions be misdiagnosed as an auto immune disorder and be ignored? If this is true then what is the strain on the heart and cardio vascular system with a prolonged reaction?

(1) Gardasil — FDA, Vaccines, Blood & Biologics http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM111263.pdf

(2) National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/syncope/syncope.htm

(3) World Allergy Organization http://www.worldallergy.org/professional/allergic_diseases_center/anaphylaxis/anaphylaxissynopsis.php

(4) Medline Plus — National Institutes of Health http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000005.htm

(5) National Jewish Health — http://www.nationaljewish.org/healthinfo/conditions/allergy/allergens/medication

(6) Medline Plus — National Institutes of Health http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000820.htm

(7) University of Maryland Medical Center — http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/serum-sickness-000149.htm

(8) J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1985 Nov;76(5):713-8., Serum sickness triggered by anaphylaxis: a complication of immunotherapy., Umetsu DT, Hahn JS, Perez-Atayde AR, Geha RS.

Anaphylaxis — http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000844.htm

Drug allergies — http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000819.htm

Serum sickness — http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000820.htm

Serum Sickness in Emergency Medicine Clinical Presentation http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/756444-clinical#a0216

© Cynthia A. Janak

 

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Cynthia A. Janak

Cynthia Janak is a freelance journalist, mother of three, foster mother of one, grandmother of five, business owner, Chamber of Commerce member... (more)

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