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Local family speaks out about lawsuit against Merck's Gardasil vaccine

WFSB Hartford logo WFSB Hartford 5/21/2021
text, letter: This image shows a vial and packaging for the Gardasil 9 vaccine. © (Merck via AP)

This image shows a vial and packaging for the Gardasil 9 vaccine.

(WFSB) -- If you have children and they’re over the age of nine, you’ve likely been asked by their pediatrician if you want them to get the Gardasil vaccine.

VIDEO: Local family speaks out about lawsuit against Merck's Gardasil vaccine
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It was created to offer protection against HPV and certain cancers.

A local mom decided she’d get her daughter vaccinated, but things took a turn after the second dose.

In fact, the reaction was so serious that they just filed a lawsuit taking on pharmaceutical giant Merck.

“My central vision is very blurry so everything I look at is like a blob,” said Korey Herlth, who got the Gardasil vaccine.

She wears special glasses to help with her double vision, and walks with a cane.

“I can’t see anything to the sides of me or below a certain level,” she described, adding that there are many other problems. “I have been dealing with a lot of chronic pain – widespread all over my body.”

Channel 3 first met Korey six years ago when she was 17 years old. That was two years after her second shot of the Gardasil vaccine.

Her pediatrician recommended she get the vaccine, which was given in three doses.

Within five days of getting her second dose, Korey said she started getting headaches, dizziness, and weakness in her legs. She never got the third shot.

Korey’s mom Andrea said they’ve been to over 50 doctors, saying Korey has been diagnosed with “POTS” which is an autoimmune disorder that affects her breathing, heart rate and balance. But nothing has really helped.

Before the vaccine, Andrea Herlth said her daughter was a healthy, young teen.

“What I now know, it’s like playing roulette, because you don’t know ahead who will get sick and who will not. I think it comes down to whose body can clear toxins,” Andrea Herlth said.

Korey’s doctor, a neurologist with Yale’s University School of Medicine, said “Based on my care and treatment of Korrine Herlth over the past 6-7 years, I believe her autoimmune issues are related to her receiving Gardasil.”

However, her reaction is considered rare.

Over 200 million children worldwide have gotten Merck’s Gardasil vaccine and have not reported any problems.

Attorney Nicole Maldonado represents the Herlth family, and said she has interviewed over 400 people who claim to be suffering similar health problems after getting the Gardasil vaccine.

She’s filed eight lawsuits against Merck and its Gardasil vaccine.

“There’s a predisposition or something particular with individuals makes them more susceptible to injury based on vaccination,” Maldonado said.

The lawsuit claims “Gardasil has far more reports of adverse events than any other vaccine. The lawsuit cites autoimmune diseases, suicides, deaths, reproductive problems and strokes.”

Maldonado said Merck knew someone would get sick.

“Absolutely – in fact they completely ignored all of the long-term effects during the clinical trials,” she added.

After bringing that allegation to Merck, a spokesperson said they submitted all clinical trial data to the FDA, and saying while “Ms. Herlth alleges she suffers from postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and attributes this syndrome to vaccination with GARDASIL. Independent scientific organizations and major regulatory and public health authorities have not found support for such a relationship.” A statement went on to say Merck stands “behind the safety and efficacy of our Gardasil vaccine and will vigorously defend against these allegations.”

The FDA says possible side effects are listed on the product package label and on patient information sheets.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends routine HPV vaccines for girls and boys starting at 11 or 12 years old. They said “Studies of more than 15,000 people in clinical trials for each of the HPV vaccines have shown no serious safety concerns.”

“When people think of a vaccine injury, they automatically think you are anti-vax, and that’s not the case at all. I have had all of my vaccines before I got injured by Gardasil,” Korey Herlth said.

Korey has always loved music, but now she plays mostly by memory because it’s hard reading the notes. She was able to graduate high school with a tutor, but she can’t drive. She said it’s hard not being independent.

“Seeing everybody else my age graduating and going off to college, getting these really nice jobs they want, moving out to a different location,” she said.

“It’s changed our lives tremendously – the Gardasil injury for Korey has become our living hell,” Andrea said.

Andrea also said the lawsuit is not about money, although they are suing for compensation to pay off thousands of dollars in medical bills. She also wants Merck to pay for Korey’s care since she’s now disabled.

She also wants Merck to acknowledge something went wrong because of their vaccine.

“I don’t want people to pity me. I am not looking for anything. I just want people to understand there are risks and at the end of the day I am not getting my life back. It’s their decision what goes into their body, they have the right to know what they are signing up for,” Korey said.

If you have questions about the Gardasil vaccine, talk with your child’s pediatrician.

You can find the lawsuit here:

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