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French prosecutors have launched an investigation into the death of a 12-year-old boy who collapsed minutes after receiving Gardasil’s human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in a school setting and subsequently died of head trauma, according to French media.
The boy, referred to in news reports as Elouan, studied at Saint-Dominique College, a private school in Saint-Herblain, near Nantes. According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), he felt “malaise” 15 minutes after vaccination and sustained a “heavy fall.”
French newspaper Le Monde reported that the vaccination occurred on Oct. 19 as part of a nationwide campaign prompting HPV vaccines in French schools for students 11-14 years old.
Following his injury, Elouan was taken to Nantes University Hospital, but his condition deteriorated and he died on Oct. 27.
Le Monde, quoting the Regional Health Authority of Pays de la Loire (ARS), reported that Elouan “fell heavily to the floor,” with the back of his head striking the “hard surface” in the room where the vaccination took place.
In an Oct. 30 press release cited by Ouest France, ARS said, “Despite the intervention” of the nurses present, Elouan’s “condition deteriorated in the following days in relation to the severity of his head trauma.”
The Nantes public prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation for involuntary manslaughter in Elouan’s death. According to Le Monde, prosecutor Renaud Gaudeul seeks to “determine whether the medical treatment of this minor — before, during and after the injection — was carried out according to the rules of the art.”
Gaudeul told Ouest France, “We want to understand how a young boy could have died in these circumstances.” No complaint has yet been filed by the victim’s parents, Ouest France reported.
In its press release, ARS ruled out any connection between the HPV vaccine and Elouan’s collapse, claiming instead, “This type of malaise can occur due to stress caused by vaccination but is unrelated to the vaccine product or to a quality defect in the vaccine.”
Nevertheless, the agency ordered an administrative investigation “to establish the conditions for carrying out vaccination and its medical supervision … as well as the conditions for medical care of the child.”
French Minister of Health Aurélien Rousseau also addressed the incident, telling the French National Assembly the “malaise” Elouan suffered was “the main adverse effect of any form of vaccination” and had “no link with the injected product.”
“Everything will obviously be examined and made public,” Rousseau said. “As I speak to you, approximately 20,000 doses have been injected. This is the only serious, tragic adverse event that we have had to experience.”
Jean-Jacques Bourguignon’s 15-year-old daughter, Marie-Océane, was injured after receiving Gardasil in 2010. He told The Defender that, contrary to Rousseau’s claims, the French government has ignored reports of adverse events. Having “written several times to our presidents and ministers of health,” he said, “nothing happens.”
French science journalist and writer Xavier Bazin, author of “Big Pharma démasqué!” and “Antivax toi-même!” wrote on his website that French health authorities were repeating “a fable” by the World Health Organization (WHO) that post-vaccination syncope is “psychological.”
Autopsy attributes Elouan’s death to fall, not vaccination
According to AFP, the vaccination program was suspended in Loire-Atlantique on Oct. 20 but was slated to resume Nov. 6.
A French parent and activist who asked that she be referred to only as “Elin,” told The Defender the HPV vaccination campaign in the country’s schools was announced in March 2023 and officially began Oct. 2 in French secondary schools.
On vaccination days, she said, mobile teams visit the school in question. A doctor’s presence is recommended, but not mandatory, she said.
Both parents must give their consent prior to the vaccination and other vaccines, such as measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, are also offered to students who are not “up to date” with their vaccination schedule, Elin said.
AFP reported that the vaccination campaign launched at the beginning of October “could suffer” in the face of widespread opposition.
For instance, in an Oct. 26 press release shared with The Defender, Philippe Delorme, general secretary of the Organization of Catholic Education, recommended pausing the HPV vaccination campaign in French Catholic schools.
Speaking to Le Monde, Delorme said Elouan’s death is “a terrible tragedy, an absolute tragedy,” adding that he is “in shock … like the entire educational community.”
Yet, according to Didier Lambert, president of the Mutual Aid Association for Macrophage Myofascitis Sufferers (E3M), “The vaccination campaign has not been suspended. Delorme has advised this suspension, but each school does as it wishes.”
In an interview with Nexus, Lambert said E3M “filed a request to investigate the presence of aluminum and/or HPV DNA in [Elouan’s] brain,” and that E3M had been asking “for a moratorium on HPV vaccination in middle schools for several months.”
Lambert told The Defender his organization also “sent an email to the public prosecutor, requesting that the autopsy include a search for the aluminic adjuvant and HPV DNA fragments,” but has not received a response.
Instead, according to Lambert, the prosecutor issued an Oct. 31 statement saying, “The autopsy indicates that the cause of death of this young boy was craniocerebral trauma following a fall to the back of the head.”
“His death was investigated,” Elin said. “I imagine they did a postmortem, but I doubt they did a thorough investigation (brain, organs) since he had suffered a trauma to his head.”
She said to her knowledge, Elouan had no known prior medical history that would indicate risk, a point that has “not been brought up in the media either.”
Syncope a known side effect of Gardasil
Experts who spoke with The Defender highlighted the risks of the HPV vaccine.
Kim Mack Rosenberg, acting general counsel for Children’s Health Defense and co-author of “The HPV Vaccine On Trial: Seeking Justice For A Generation Betrayed,” told The Defender that “Gardasil is one of the most, if not the most reported vaccines to the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).”
Michael L. Baum, an attorney with California law firm Wisner Baum, told The Defender the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) “has paid more than $70 million in damages and awards to children injured by Gardasil.” Baum cited “a growing body of research outlining the risks” associated with the Gardasil HPV vaccine.
According to Rosenberg, the Gardasil vaccine is associated with “autoimmune diseases and disorders, dysautonomia, neurological disorders, reproductive disorders and more.”
Other risks associated with the vaccine include chronic fatigue and chronic pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, Guillain-Barré syndrome, immune thrombocytopenia, lupus, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, small fiber neuropathy and death.
Syncope is another possible adverse event. “It is clear to me that this boy suffered syncope-type symptoms,” said Baum, who cited a 2017 study published in Drug Safety.
Syncope is one of the few “‘table’ injuries — which are presumed caused by a vaccine,” and recognized by the VICP “if it occurs within an hour of receiving a Gardasil vaccine,” Rosenberg said. She said the descriptions in the French press suggest Elouan experienced syncope.
The Postlicensure Safety Surveillance report authored in 2009 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and published in JAMA, said there were 3 times more adverse events reported for Gardasil than all other vaccines combined, including “disproportional reporting of syncope and venous thromboembolic events.”
Rosenberg also pointed out that no study has yet proven that HPV vaccines prevent cervical cancer. Moreover, the vaccine’s clinical trials were not designed to determine this, and the post-marketing studies “do not support that claim either.”
Emily Tarsell, whose 21-year-old daughter, Christina, died in 2008, 18 days after receiving her third dose of the Gardasil vaccine, told The Defender, “The CDC and FDA never investigated why, according to even their own data, there is disproportional reporting of syncope and thromboembolic events.”
Bazin said that French parents were not informed, in documents provided to them accompanying their children’s vaccination, that syncope was a common adverse event.
“I am quite sure that it didn’t mention any adverse events or anything that could deter parents from doing it,” he said.
Elin told The Defender, “Parents do not receive the product leaflet of the vaccine either, before giving their consent.”
Official account of Elouan’s death ‘a story, highly dubious in some respects’
French authorities’ claims that Elouan died because of vaccination-related stress or due to a fear of needles were also dismissed by experts who spoke with The Defender.
“We are not convinced by this argument of syncope of psychosomatic origin, nor by the fact that death is necessarily attributable to head trauma,” Lambert told Nexus.
Tarsell said, “It’s not credible or science-based to say that fear of needles causes death in a healthy child.”
Bazin called the authorities’ official account “a ‘story,’ highly dubious in some respects,” adding that “even if true, it shows how inadequate the vaccination setup is in schools.”
“Due to the adverse events reported after Gardasil injection, it is best for students to get the shot in a medical facility where they can get rapid treatment if they suffer side effects and can be medically monitored for a half hour after vaccination,” Baum said.
Elin identified other flaws in France’s school vaccination program, including no clear guidelines regarding preventive measures, such as space to lie down, enough adults to keep an eye on many vaccinated students, sufficient time to recover before returning to class or individual risk assessment of each student by a doctor.
“In the event of fainting, it’s vital to distinguish between vagal malaise and anaphylactic shock — bearing in mind that anaphylactic shock can also occur within 15 minutes of the injection, in the event of allergy to one of the vaccine’s components,” Bazin wrote.
“These precautions tend to fall by the wayside when it’s decided to ‘make the numbers’ by massively vaccinating in schools,” he said, likening the situation to an “assembly line.”
“The fact that they didn’t lie the boy down when he said he didn’t feel well after vaccination is a great mistake,” Bazin told The Defender. “That alone shows, in my opinion, that you should not vaccinate in schools.”
On Nov. 14, France’s National Medicines Agency issued new recommendations regarding school vaccinations, requiring students who have just been vaccinated to “remain lying down (on floor mats or blankets) or sitting on the ground, with their backs against a wall, in a clear space.”
According to French newspaper La Depeche, the new recommendations are a direct response to Elouan’s death, and aim “to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.”
For the Union for the Prevention and Management of Health Crises (UPGCS) though, this is not enough. In a Nov. 20 press release, UPGCS said the new recommendations “sound like an admission: the campaign that was organized in secondary schools seems to be lacking the most elementary safety measures.”
UPGCS called for the immediate suspension of the HPV school vaccination campaign, “for the safety and physical integrity of all children in France,” in a “référé liberté” (akin to a request for an emergency injunction) filed with the Nantes Administrative Court by the organization and three parents.
Experts question push to vaccinate teenage boys for HPV
Some experts also questioned the necessity of giving the HPV vaccine to teenage boys.
“The chances of a teenage boy contracting any of the cancers, including head and neck, anal and penile, associated with HPV is exceedingly rare,” Rosenberg said. “These are cancers generally diagnosed in people over the age of 60.”
“To give it to teenage boys to protect their current or future female partners from cervical or other cancers doesn’t hold water,” she added, noting that “the median age for cervical cancer diagnosis in the U.S. is 50 years old.”
According to Baum, it can take decades for a persistent HPV infection to proceed to the development of cervical or anal cancer.
“The median age of death from cervical cancer is 58, and death from anal cancer is 66,” Baum said. “Teenagers essentially have zero risk of dying from cervical or anal cancer.”
The France-based “For Aluminum-Free Vaccines” campaign published on its website excerpts from a 2016 exchange between Hugues Fisher of France’s National AIDS and Hepatitis Council, and Dr. Daniel Floret of the French Technical Vaccination Committee, at a hearing deliberating the expansion of the HPV vaccination program.
While Floret advocated launching an HPV vaccination campaign for teenage girls, Fisher was adamant the program should also include teenage boys. Floret said, “For boys, it’s virtually a vaccine with very little direct individual benefit,” but Fischer said, “It’s possible to write that, indirectly, it’s to protect women against cervical cancer.”
France resumes school HPV vaccination program ‘as if nothing happened’
According to Elin, a campaign by French parents and activists in September resulted in at least four Catholic schools withdrawing from the HPV school vaccination campaign.
Nevertheless, the campaign continued, and following Elouan’s death, Bazin said the vaccination program has resumed nationwide “as if nothing happened,” characterizing this as “infuriating.”
Yet there have been some successes, according to Elin, who said, “The HPV vaccination campaign has been slow and difficult to get going, with few parents consenting. Is it cost-effective to mobilize vaccination teams when few students sign up?”
She said she “would not be surprised” to see legal actions filed by associations and parents.
Similarly, Lambert said, “It seems that HPV vaccination in schools has not met with the expected success. Elouan’s death will certainly reinforce this mistrust.
Experts urged parents to think carefully if considering the HPV vaccine for their children.
“Based on the history of Gardasil’s link with severe adverse events, mandating Gardasil in the U.S., France or elsewhere will result in unnecessary injuries to young children, teens, and others. Given the risks, families must have a choice,” Rosenberg said.
Baum said, “Do not let your child get the Gardasil vaccine without understanding the risks versus benefits,” noting it targets only nine of HPV’s 200-plus strains. He called Pap tests “The most effective and side-effect-free means of preventing cervical cancer.”