On July 30 of this year, twelve year old Meredith Prohaska visited her doctor. She was suffering from a sore throat, but aside from that she seemed to be in good health and had no history of major health problems. While at the doctor, she received the HPV vaccine. After returning home she took a nap. A few hours later, her mother found her dead.
It’s an understatement to say that this story is tragic. One cannot even imagine the shock and grief suffered by her parents and family and the pain of her absence, which they will endure for the rest of their lives. By all accounts Meredith was a vibrant girl with a promising future.
Her death was covered extensively in the news media, always reported as having died shortly after getting the HPV vaccine. Her mother and father both suspected that the vaccine was to blame. It’s not surprising that they would, seeing as no other explanation seemed to be available for her death.
Reporting in the mainstream media has had the usual sensational undertones. But other sites have done far worse. The story was taken up by nearly every anti-vaccine group around, with claims that the HPV vaccine certainly killed this young woman. This has been held up as proof of vaccine injury and that the HPV vaccine is dangerous or deadly.
“The only thing different about that day was that shot:” Did a trip to the doctor kill a healthy 12-year-old girl?
WAUKESHA (WITI) — A disturbing mystery — and a tragic end to a very young life. A 12-year-old Waukesha girl is dead — and there is seemingly no reason why — except perhaps, one.
Meredith Prohaska was an active, fun-loving 12-year-old girl one minute. A few hours later — she was unresponsive on the floor. In between that time, there was a trip to the doctor — and now, Prohaska’s family wonders if that’s what killed her.
“I’m a tough guy. I can take a beating — but this has ripped a hole in my heart,” Prohaska’s father, Mark Prohaska said.
Prohaska is describes as a girl who loved to be active — swimming and playing basketball while in sixth grade at Butler Middle School.
She loved to take part in activities at Horeb Springs Park.
“Vibrant. Full of life. She was our sunshine. Everywhere I go, everything I do — I see her,” Rebecca Prohaska said.
That’s where a FOX6 News crew met her mother on Thursday, August 7th to talk about the young girl’s unexpected death of July 30th.
Rebecca Prohaska took her daughter to the doctor for a sore throat. While they were there…
“She got her first HPV vaccine at around 10:30, 11 o’clock that morning,” Rebecca Prohaska said.
At some point, Rebecca Prohaska says she remembers getting a handout about possible side effects.
“Thirty minutes later she was trying to sleep. I kept waking her up,” Rebecca Prohaska said.
By 3:30 that afternoon, Rebecca Prohaska went out for a half-hour to get food.
“I came back and I found her on the floor,” Rebecca Prohaska said.
Rebecca Prohaska — a 14-year veteran EMT for the National Guard, performed CPR after calling 911.
Meredith Prohaska was pronounced dead at the hospital. No one could say why.
“It was the hardest thing when they called and said they don’t know. There was no reason. She was the healthiest 12-year-old,” Rebecca Prohaska said.
Rebecca Prohaska remembers a rare potential side effect of the HPV vaccine — an allergic reaction, but Meredith’s autopsy report rules her cause of death as inconclusive.
“The only thing different about that day was that shot. I wish I would’ve known more about it before I agreed to it,” Rebecca Prohaska said.
“It has to be that vaccine,” Mark Prohaska said.
The Prohaskas have donated Meredith’s organs and tissue so others can live a healthier life.
While her family waits for more tests — hoping for answers, they have a message for others. It’s a message the family is spreading on Facebook, and on a GoFundMe page set up in the young girl’s honor.
“Be aware of every possible side effect — and make sure you’re hugging them all the time because you never know when you’re just going to be left with pictures,” Rebecca Prohaska said.
Meredith Prohaska will be buried on Saturday, August 9th.
Meanwhile, Dr. Geoffrey Swain — a professor and medical doctor at the Milwaukee Health Department says by and large, the HPV vaccine’s benefits far outweigh the risks.
“Vaccines in general and the HPV vaccine in particular, very, very safe. It’s a very safe vaccine and very effective,” Dr. Swain said.
Dr. Swain says serious side effects are nearly one in a million.
“Very, very rare,” Dr. Swain said.
Doctor Swain’s comments have been seized upon by some anti-vaccine groups. If one in a million HPV vaccines does really result in death, then that would mean several deaths would result from the millions of vaccines being administered. Although that would still make receiving the HPV vaccine safer than not getting it, resulting in the risk of cervical cancer, it still would give pause to some over the deaths that the vaccine did cause.
However Dr. Swain’s “one in a million” comment seems to be more of a figure of speech, describing something that is simply astronomically unlikely. It’s certainly not based on real world data, because although twenty three million doses of the HPV vaccine have been dispensed, not a single death has been linked to it. A small number of adverse reactions have been reported, but most have been very minor. Of the millions injected, 32 deaths occurred shortly after the administration of the vaccine, but upon investigation, they were all proven to be unrelated to the vaccine. This number of deaths is not unusual for a group so large.
The medical examiner initially ruled Meredith Prohaska’s inconclusive, leading to even more speculation about the involvement of the vaccine she received. Now, months later, however, the investigation has reached a conclusion. The medical examiner has ruled that Meredith’s death was not related to the vaccine in any way.
It’s important to share this story as much as possible, because the initial reports got so much press and the final verdict is likely to garner far less attention. Even given the conclusion, there’s no doubt that anti-vaccine groups will continue to use the story to their benefit.
Medical examiner rules Waukesha girl did not die of HPV vaccine
WAUKESHA, Wis. —The Waukesha County medical examiner has ruled that a cervical cancer vaccine was not the cause of death for a 12-year-old girl.
Meredith Prohaska died in the end of July, hours after receiving an HPV vaccine. Meredith’s mother said her daughter threw up and was on the floor hours after receiving the vaccine.
Medical examiner Lynda Biedrzycki ruled Wednesday that Meredith died because of diphenhydramine intoxication.
Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine used in several over-the-counter cold and allergy products.
Biedrzycki said the office has not ruled whether the intoxication was accidental or intentional.
WISN 12 News requested the medical examiner’s full report but was told it’s not ready yet.
Medical experts said the odds of a deadly reaction to the HPV vaccine are about one in a million.
WISN 12 News reporter Hillary Mintz tried contacting Meredith’s mother, Rebecca Prohaska, on Wednesday, but a friend said it’s a difficult time for Prohaska, and she wasn’t up for talking about the medical examiner’s findings.
Diphenhydramine is a common over the counter antihistamine. Its most familiar use is as the active ingredient in Benadryl. It is also present in many cold and flu remedies and is sometimes used in over the counter sleeping medication, due to its sedating effects.
Death as a result of diphenhydramine overdose is uncommon but not unheard of. Some individuals may be more sensitive than others, but the drug is normally very safe when used at the recommended dose.
Meredith Prohaska may have taken too much of the drug due to a simple accident. Many seem to think that common over the counter drugs are harmless, leading to administration beyond what is directed. The fact that Meredith was relatively young and small in stature may have also contributed to her death, as a lower dose would be needed than for a large adult.
The cause of Meredith’s death certainly makes things no less painful or tragic for her family, but it should serve to dispel myths that the HPV vaccine is unsafe. Unfortunately, it probably won’t.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 at 7:01 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Good Science, Quackery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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