Getting to know Gardasil
In 2012, when I was preparing to leave Singapore for a year’s stay in Europe, my mother was insistent that I get the newly introduced cervical cancer vaccination before my trip (Mom, have more faith in me!).
The brand that we heard around the block was Gardasil. The U.S. National Cancer Institute reported that Gardasil have shown to protect against 16 out of 18 types of Human Pappinomavirus infections. For Gardasil, this protection can last for up to 5 years.
For many years, there have been rumours about the effects of Gardasil and its usefulness. If you are not aware, Gardasil was widely introduced since their launch in 2006 and is now being used all over the world. in 2006, Merck and Co., the pharmaceutical company behind the vaccine, launched their print, television, and online advertising campaign themed ‘One Less’ to promote the world’s first cervical cancer vaccine.
A few years on, while many were lamenting on how misleading the messages conveyed through the One Less video commercial- especially the issue of assuming the viewers are knowledgeable about the works of a vaccine, a number of others were active on letting the world know about the claimed unreported side-effects that were life-threatening.
Their efforts were conducted on a very powerful platform- Youtube.
Crowdsourcing the Side-Effects of Gardasil
On Youtube, these videos take up more than 7 pages of your search highlighting on the life-threatening effects of Gardasil. Personal accounts are so real they take you on an emotional ride through suspense, revelation, disgust, self-awareness, and etc. I’m not sure about you, but after watching these videos, whether they are true or not, I felt ashamed that I have been taking my meds blindly.
In 2009, the lead researcher of Gardasil, Dr. Harper, eventually went on screen to give the full story about Gardasil and its effects. Dr. Harper, who is also a vaccine safety advocate, admitted to CBS News about Dr. Barbara Slade’s report to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention about Gardasil on the Journal of Amercican Medical Association:
“Parents and women must know that deaths occurred. Not all deaths that have been reported were represented in Dr. Slade’s work, one-third of the death reports were unavailable to the CDC, leaving the parents of the deceased teenagers in despair that the CDC is ignoring the very rare but real occurrences that need not have happened if parents were given information stating that there are real, but small risks of death surrounding the administration of Gardasil.”
The Power of Video Content
Whether or not the accounts on Youtube were genuine, the power of video content here when it is generated at a commonplace is astounding. Especially when it comes to matters that involve life and death, text reports are not ‘real’ enough to send a powerful message across. I am actually growing a new expectation on the potentiality of Youtube in the years to come.
In fact, in 2012, an hour of Youtube videos was uploaded every second. This year, according to Fast Company, 72 hours of videos were uploaded every second.
More significantly, this phenomenon of viewers having a stronger preference toward video content as compared to text means a lot. Real-life videos seem to invoke a higher response rate from viewers. This shows the careful steering toward humanising online content and how videos allow gadget users to interact not with isolated machines, but vivid content that mimics our daily interactions with people.
As for the issue with Gardasil, if you are currently an ongoing receiver of the vaccine, or are planning to take the vaccine, Dr. Harper has agreed that the vaccine is still safe, just that people must be intentional information seekers, much akin to any other decisions we choose to make.
Today, start taking charge of your health. Research and sieve out accurate information for your own good.