Monday, August 29, 2016

All Those HPV Vaccine Deaths Aren't After All

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System or VAERS is a surveillance program designed to monitor post-market vaccine safety.  It is a passive surveillance system which means that entries are largely self-reported although healthcare professionals and vaccine manufacturers are required by law to report any adverse events from vaccines.  It also means that this type of reporting scheme can lack pertinent information regarding the vaccine, recipient and adverse event.  Select adverse events are followed up on although causality cannot be established; however a signal may be detected that warrants further investigation to examine the possibility of a correlation between a vaccine and adverse event, even very rare events such as between RotaShield and intussusception.

Reporting schemes such as VAERS are very useful when used correctly but they do have limitations and cannot be used to establish causality or for epidemiological studies.  Unfortunately VAERS is open to abuse by pseudo-scientists, laypeople, scientists with anti-vaccine agendas and even lawyers.  Those of us involved with the vaccine issue affectionately refer to this as VAERS dumpster-diving and unfortunately there is no shortage of dodgy investigators who engage in this deceitful activity.  One particular vaccine type stands out for VAERS abuse which protects against some strains of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).  The current two vaccines are Gardasil and Cervarix.  It wasn't difficult to find an example of how egregiously VAERS is abused to make a personal, emotionally-overwrought argument in light of the fact that all serious adverse events are followed up on and none can be traced to HPV vaccines.

It just so happens that a fellow skeptic ScienceMonkey was kind enough to mine the VAERS database (for good and not for evil) and collate it to make the entries for "deaths" concise and readable for those who wish to demonstrate to the anti-vaxxer they are debating how HPV vaccines are not responsible for all the deaths they do like to claim.

VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) is ONE of the CDC’s methods for tracking and documenting any potential negative reactions to vaccines. ANYONE can submit to VAERS. (Physicians would use the Vaccine Safety Datalink.) The details are open to the public and, as people are wont to do to promote their agendas, statistics can be manipulated and misrepresented. All of the VAERS data are accessible to the public and the individual reports are publicly-available in the VAERS Wonder system.

From the CDC: “A report to VAERS generally does not prove that the identified vaccine(s) caused the adverse event described.  It only confirms that the reported event occurred sometime after vaccine was given. No proof that the event was caused by the vaccine is required in order for VAERS to accept the report. VAERS accepts all reports without judging whether the event was caused by the vaccine.”

For reference, 80 million dose of Gardasil were administered in the U.S. between 2006 and 2015.

VAERS has 11 reports of people dying from HPV vaccines in 2011. Here are the report numbers with short synopses.

417137-1 Died 29 days after vaccination. Onset 29 days. F 17 TN.
419237-1 Anecdote from a filer of multiple reports.
421582-1 Anecdote. Cardiac arrest.
425513-1 Chronic depression. Suicide.
425598-1 Anecdote from a filer of multiple reports.
425680-1 Anecdote. Internet.
429007-1 Consumer reported he had nothing to live for because Gardasil killed his daughter.
430780-1 Pathologist stated cause of death as consistent with cardiac insufficiency, due to cardiac arrhythmia, due to probable early cardiomyopathy. Child Death Review Team felt this death was consistent with a diagnosis of sudden cardiac death.
437735-1 Relapse of ITP: 18-year-old female with immune thrombocytopenic purpura, diagnosed in 1995 and in remission from 2004 to 2011 following treatment with Rituximab. Relapse in early April, 2011, followed administration of Gardasil vaccine on 10-26-10 and 1-7-11. Relapse of ITP led eventually to death from intracranial hemorrhage on 07/06/2011. Onset 84 days after vaccination.
437999-1 Suicide.
442402-1 Limited details. Patient on Depakote, Lyrica, Diazepam, Adderall for a Seizure disorder.

5 (45%) were anecdotes. 2 were suicides. 1 was not a death. 2 were clear other causes of death. 1 has limited information but onset occurred almost a month after vaccination. 1 patient has a disorder and was on other drugs.

There is no evidence in VAERS to support that any deaths can be linked to HPV in 2011.

VAERS has 6 reports of people dying from HPV vaccines in 2012. Here are the report numbers with short synopses.

449334-1 Symptoms onset 968 days after vaccination. Patient was found to be positive for a genetic mutation (FUS) recently recognized as associated with early-onset, rapidly progressive ALS.
450655-1 Limited detail. Michigan 2/27/12. (I can find zero external details on this one.)
453010-1 Limited detail. On other meds. Onset 9 days after injection 2.
457904-1 14-year-old male. Suicide.
464953-1 Anecdote, and “the nurses found that there was no record of the patient in local registry for GARDASIL patients”
471590-1 Anecdote was “from a consumer, who learned from a foreign radio channel of fatal cases after GARDASIL vaccination”

2 (33%) were anecdotes. 2 were other clear causes. 2 reports had very limited information and searches added nothing.

There is no evidence in VAERS to support that any deaths can be linked to HPV in 2012.

VAERS has 19 reports of people dying from HPV vaccines in 2013. Here are the report numbers with short synopses.

482344-1 Someone received something via social media and filed a report.
482352-1 Someone received something via social media and filed a report.
485188-1 Someone received something via social media and filed a report.
485757-1 A patient on anti-seizure medication and suffering from an upper respiratory infection died.
489163-1 Mother was vaccinated during pregnancy. Baby died 59 days after birth.
492468-1 Anecdote – someone knows someone who died.
494024-1 Patient had a cerebral hemorrhage and leukemia.
500225-1 Child passed out. Mother did research on the internet and heard about someone who died. There was no death here.
501081-1 Student found dead in dorm room three days after vaccination. Date and story likely link case to a well-publicized case. (The CDC/ATSDR Policy on Releasing and Sharing Data prohibits linking these data with other data sets or information for the purpose of identifying an individual.) The death was attributed to bulimia complications.
501663-1 Limited details. Nothing in file implying death liked to vaccines.
505344-1 Someone received something via social media and filed a report. File notes same person filing many similar reports.
505350-1 Someone received something via social media and filed a report.
505364-1 Someone received something via social media and filed a report.
510130-1 Patient died from myocarditis.
511528-1 Patient died from acute liver failure.
513554-1 Patient died 111 days after vaccination from influenza complications
513728-1 A mother claimed her daughter was killed by Gardasil five years earlier.
514814-1 Someone saw an anti-HPV video and filed a report.
515434-1 A asthmatic patient on Albuterol died 42 days after vaccination.

11 of 19 (58%) reports were anecdotal. 1 was not a death. 6 deaths were attributed to other causes. 1 death had limited detail in the file. The wording in some of the filings was identical. Some of the Wonder files even noted it was the same person doing many of the anecdotal filings.

There is no evidence in VAERS to support that any deaths can be linked to HPV in 2013.

VAERS has 16 reports of people dying from HPV vaccines in 2014. Here are the report numbers with short synopses.

518872-1 Patient on Adderall and Celexa died 44 days after receiving third Gardasil injection.
522070-1 Anecdote. Nurse reports of multiple people reporting internet anecdotes.
525311-1 Anecdote of 53 deaths.
526687-1 Patient with cardiomegaly. Myocarditis.
527990-1 Anecdote. Someone read something on Facebook that 15 people had died.
528766-1 Anecdote. Nurse read about something on a website.
532797-1 Patient had seizure 43 days after vaccination.
*538295-1 Patient died 1 day after Gardasil. Mother claims it was the vaccination.
540269-1 Anecdote of case 538295-1.
540899-1 Barely an anecdote.
541912-1 Anecdote of case 538295-1.
541916-1 Anecdote of case 538295-1.
544217-1 Anecdote of case 538295-1. (Physician aware of the anecdote corrected the age!)
546064-1 Anecdote of case 538295-1.
557260-1 Anecdote. Reporter claims deaths tied to Gardasil and product needs to be pulled from market. File states this reporter has done this many times.
559863-1 Anecdote of case 538295-1.

*I have to do a side note here on 538295-1 as I found this specific case on many anti-vaccination websites when I dove deeper. Based on the age of the girl, the date of the incident, and the location, I am certain of who this girl was. (The CDC/ATSDR Policy on Releasing and Sharing Data prohibits linking these data with other data sets or information for the purpose of identifying an individual.) The mother claimed the vaccination was the cause of her daughter’s death. The coroner found no causation from the vaccination and concluded the death was caused by diphenhydramine intoxication (Benadryl overdose). Despite the coroner’s conclusion, many anti-vaccination websites still tout this case. Six of the other filings for 2014 are for this specific case.

12 of 16 (75%) cases were anecdotes. 6 of the anecdotes were the same story!

There is no evidence in VAERS to support that any deaths can be linked to HPV in 2014.

Here’s a side note on disability filings for 2014: Permanent disabilities are said to be caused by HPV vaccines. 41% of the permanent disabilities out of a total count of 83 reported in 2014 were anecdotal. 7% of the reports had no disabilities reported. 10% were vague enough to where I “kind of” wanted more details and 15% were vague enough to where I really wanted more detail. Many filings were belief based – they “know the vaccine caused the harm.” 17% of the files noted the onset of adverse effects started more than 90 days after the vaccination. Several reported the onset occurred years after the vaccine.

There were 12 files where I really wanted more information and the results of the follow ups.

Several of the files noted their daughter’s attitudes changing after the vaccine. Since the attitudes of girls in their early teens are always extremely stable . . .

Here’s your 2015 “death from HPV vaccine” breakdown from VAERS/Wonder:

562128-1 Anecdote (Twitter)
568282-1 Allergic reaction symptoms 127 days after injection.
570801-1 Syncope. Died in ER 496 days after injection.
591496-1 Anecdote (television show)
597263-1 Anecdote (website)
603438-1 Anecdote (website)
607441-1 Anecdote (“one of several reports from the same reporter”)
611113-1 Anecdote (digital media)
611452-1 Upper respiratory tract infection anterior to the injection. Died three days after vaccination. Would like to see a follow up on this one, but couldn’t find anything from other sources.
611827-1 Anecdote
612231-1 Anecdote (online article)
612719-1 Onset 98 days after vaccination. Pontine Glioma Tumor.
613330-1 Anecdote (Twitter)
615613-1 Anecdote (website video)
615626-1 Anecdote (file even says “non-valid social media” spontaneous report)
616449-1 Anecdote (social media)

12 of the 16 (75%) are anecdotes, almost exclusively from the internet.
One had an allergic reaction 127 days after the vaccine.
One died 496 days after vaccination.
One had a pre-existing URI, but there isn’t enough detail in the file to say anything concrete either way. I couldn’t find any public detail on this and there is not any filing with the U.S. Court of Claims for a vaccine injury with details matching this case as of August 22, 2016. (If anyone has any details on this case, please post!)
One had symptom onset 98 days after vaccination. Death from brain tumor.

There is no evidence in VAERS to support that any deaths can be linked to HPV in 2015.

And now we enter 2016 where the art of data stuffing has caused the “deaths” to skyrocket. Here’s your 2016 “death from HPV vaccine” breakdown from VAERS/Wonder through August 22, 2016:

618174-1 Anecdote (Twitter)
618364-1 Anecdote (Magazine)
618411-1 Anecdote (Social Media)
619115-1 Anecdote (Social Media)
619116-1 Anecdote
619400-1 Anecdote (This one may be worth going into Wonder to read. Fun!)
619827-1 Anecdote (media, “Same filer”)
619835-1 Anecdote (online article)
621565-1 “Possible Lyme disease, 3 and a half years of pain with seizures and tachycardia. Seizure led to heart attack and death on 1/12/16.”
622366-1 Anecdote
622986-1 Brain tumor. 1,651 days after vaccination. For the mathematically impaired, that’s 4.5 years.
625990-1 Anecdote
626063-1 Anecdote (social media)
627312-1 Anecdote (Pharmacist inquiry. No death reported.)
628774-1 Anecdote (Report blamed death on “dTpa vaccine.”)
634742-1 Anecdote (“This is one of several cases received from the same source.”)
636334-1 Anecdote (“This is one of several cases received from the same source.”)
636483-1 Anecdote
638043-1 Anecdote
638257-1 Anecdote
639404-1 Anecdote
641317-1 Symptom Text field literally says just “Death.”

So 19 of 22 (86%) of the reports for 2016 through August 22 are anecdotes. One didn’t even have a death reported. One blamed the death on other causes. One was a brain tumor 1,651 days after vaccination. One said just “Death.”

There is no evidence in VAERS to support that any deaths can be linked to HPV so far in 2016.


  1. Thank you for putting this together.

  2. Thank you very very much for going through this and putting this together.

  3. See also for a similar tally related to HPV VAERS reports of death.

  4. Wow this is so interesting!!!
    I am so glad someone took the time to analyze this!!!

  5. When AVers abuse VAERS like this, they undermine its purpose and usefulness.

  6. Wait. You mean anti-vaccine activists are submitted false reports to VAERS to pad out the numbers, then using those numbers to claim that HPV vaccine is causing all kinds of deaths? Certainly they aren't that dishonest! [/sarcasm]

  7. Thanks so much for this enlightening post. Its clear the VAERS is no longer useful. Since vaccines are so safe and effective its time we dissolve the VAERS and just treat vaccines like we do all other safe pharmaceuticals. In the extremely rare instance that someone has a real adverse reaction, let them find a personal injury lawyer and try and sue like they have to for other issues. There's no way they'll be able to find a lawyer that will go after a vaccine manufacturer and finance the case themselves, hoping for a payout when the case is concluded. Its time to do away with the VAERS, and let vaccines stand on their own two feet.

    1. I don't know if you're just trolling but VAERS is very useful when mined correctly. It doesn't have anything to do with the NVICP either and a bad idea to eliminate that.

  8. HPV vaccination has been discontinued in Japan due to its' toxicity!

    Silly Japanese! I can almost see the HPV spreading through the mainland every time I look at the map. that Okinawa or a wart?

    1. That last country that should emulated for vaccine safety is Japan. First due to political pressure from antivaccine forces they delayed pertussis vaccination for two years, and lots of kids died (over forty):
      Impact of anti-vaccine movements on pertussis control: the untold story

      And later they did the same bending to political anti-vaccine activists to make measles vaccination voluntary, and even more kids died (almost ninety):
      Measles vaccine coverage and factors related to uncompleted vaccination among 18-month-old and 36-month-old children in Kyoto, Japan

      They have also had issues mumps and congenital rubella syndrome outbreaks. Yeah, Japan is a very bad example.

  9. No matter how many facts are presented, the anti-vax crowd will always keep their false beliefs. Too bad that it's their children that are put at risk for not being vaccinated.

  10. I developed severe sensory problems and MS type symptoms (trouble with my left side) right after getting the hpv vaccine. My friend who had the vaccine at the same time as me also developed less severe sensory problems right after the vaccine. I'm not anti-vax at all, but that one in particular has had a lot of reported problems, considering cervical cancer is not a big risk in the US I wish I had never gotten it. Also neither of us reported the issue to VAERS b/c I didn't even consider it could be the vaccine until I met other people with the same issues.

    1. Correlation =/= causation Anonymous. As demonstrated by the post you responded to, reported does not mean that the vaccine had anything to do with what was reported. You can still report to VAERS.