All Of The Times I Passed Out From HPV Vaccinations

“You put down that you have a history of seizures. Tell me about it,” my new GYN asked.

“Well, it’s happened a few times after getting medical procedures, but it hasn’t happened in over 10 years. I just always put it down, because it’s a part of my medical history.”

It all started during a routine GYN appointment, when my doctor suggested that I get the Gardasil vaccine while I was still of age. I had a few reservations, but ended up agreeing; insurance would be covering it, so who was I to turn it down? She handed over the literature and I looked it over, comfortable with her advice. It was a new office and a new doctor, but I trusted her already.

A nurse came in with the shot and an alcohol swab. We had a casual conversation; she took my blood pressure again and prepped me for the shot.

“Do you want me to warn you, or just do it?”

“Oh, it doesn’t matter, I’m fine.”

So in went the needle. I really was fine. Until I wasn’t.

I started talking again, and immediately knew something was wrong. My words weren’t connecting with my brain. I felt really dizzy, and I asked if I could lie down for a second.

You know in the movie Contact, when Jodie Foster’s character is in that ball-space ship thing and goes through that weird light tube, and is on a planet/ beach with her dead father? And then it’s over, and she asks how long she was gone, and they tell her it was about two seconds? That’s exactly what happened to me, minus the whole talking to aliens thing. I had approximately two hours worth of dreams/ hallucinations in that two seconds, and I came out of it hearing, “Somebody help! She’s having a seizure!”

The next thing I knew, I was being shaken awake, my cheeks were being patted, sulfur was being popped under my nose, and there were no less than five nurses standing above me. Two of them were holding my legs up. I had absolutely no idea what was going on.

“Do you know where you are?”

“Yes,” I said, “at the doctor.”

“What is your birthday?”

“December… 12th… 19… 86.”

I still had no idea what was going on, really.They told me later that I’d just completely passed out and started shaking and almost gurgling, choking, and that I’d turned white as a sheet. Nurses brought in water, cold paper towels, ice — anything to make me comfortable. And then, in my still hazy state, a few of the nurses started asking me about my outfit.

“I love your shirt! Where is it from?”

“These pants fit you so nicely!”

“Why are they asking me this right now?” I kept thinking. I responded half-heartedly between breaths, but they kept it up, if only to keep me awake. To this day, I remember this part of the visit the best.

A few of them stayed in the room with me, upwards of 20 or 30 minutes, until the cold sweats stopped and the color returned to my face. In an attempt to cheer me up and get me talking, we talked about boyfriends, drunken antics, and girly conversation.

My doctor came back in and suggested I take the rest of the day off of work, to which I happily obliged. After calling my boss, I drove myself to Wawa and ordered my favorite Italian hoagie, a 32 oz. Diet Coke, and a pack of shark gummies. Then I stayed in bed all day, researching what the hell had just happened to me.

Apparently it’s more common then the literature lets on, this whole passing out after Gardasil injections thing. Although it’s listed as a possible side effect, it happens to about 2,000 women a year, and probably more that go unreported. Some happen right after the injection, and some happen a day later.

A lot of medical professionals will chalk it up to anxiety and nerves, but I knew my case was different, and I was happy to learn that I wasn’t alone. Like I’d told my doctor, I hadn’t had any fainting episodes since junior high. I even got a flu shot in my own office and was perfectly fine! But right after the Gardasil injection, I could literally feel the drugs hit me, and they were strong. How the hell was I going to endure two more of these?

Two months later, I went back for the second injection. The story basically repeats itself, minus the seizure part. I had the same nurse, who remembered me and my little episode, so she knew what to do and what to look out for. This time, I went to work after the appointment, prepared with food and lots of sugar, and a firm note to my coworkers to keep an eye on me.

The third injection came six months after the first, right on schedule. In the days leading up to the appointment, I did start to get anxiety, but not about the shot — about what I knew would ultimately follow. My roommate drove me to the appointment, and I told her she didn’t have to stay, because I felt calm and was determined to fight whatever this was.

The routine followed the first two. I had the same nurse again. She prepped me, I signed the paper. This time, she let me lay down while giving me the shot instead of making me sit up like the previous two times. Would this help? We didn’t know, but we were giving it a shot (zing!).

In goes the shot, out goes my brain. More Contact like hallucination dreams, but this time the nurse just let me come to, which was again only took a few seconds, but had felt like hours. It had become so routine. She handed me a cup of water, put a few wet towels on my forehead, and left the room to let me “get normal” on my own. The ringing in my ears took about five minutes to pass. I was still a little effed up — I know this because I remember another nurse coming in to check on me, but I have no recollection of what either of us said.

15 minutes later I walked out on my own, but not before stopping in another room to grab some paper towels to reach up my skirt and wipe down my inner thigh sweat in full view of a few rooms. I really just didn’t care anymore. I asked for directions to the train station. Seven minutes later, when I saw the train approaching the station while I was still a good .2 miles away, I sprinted for my life uphill through a small forest, lest I be any later for work and have to wait for the next train in the pouring rain. I guess it was my day after all, because the train waited for me. I sat there during that 30-minute ride replaying what had that day. And despite my bizarre reactions to the vaccinations, I would get those shots again in a heartbeat, Michelle Bachmann be damned. TC mark

image – Sarah G…


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  • NoSexCity

    Interesting – you know, seizures were never mentioned as a real side effect when I went & got the first shot. Never made it back for the other two, but good for you! Protect your cervix!

  • Cassie Young

    I’m really glad you posted this! I got the shot along with two other random shots at the doc once and passed out right after. We just chalked it up to the fact that I got 3 shots all together, but this makes more sense! I hadn’t heard of this being common. Weird.

  • Mairingilmartin

    Same thing happened to me, but I wasn’t brave enough to go back and get the last two. I should probably do that…

  • tess

    I’ve never fainted before and have never had a seizure but when I had my first Gardasil shot I fainted as I was walking out of the exam room at Planned Parenthood.   Glad others have had the same reaction!  I didn’t faint from the other two but I did get really dizzy and felt disconnected… Totally understand the relation to the movie Contact.

  • tess

    I’ve never fainted before and have never had a seizure but when I had my first Gardasil shot I fainted as I was walking out of the exam room at Planned Parenthood.   Glad others have had the same reaction!  I didn’t faint from the other two but I did get really dizzy and felt disconnected… Totally understand the relation to the movie Contact.

  • Meghan McCrimmon

    I didn’t pass out, but after the third one my arm hurt for days.  It’s a good thing you got them as well as everyone else – we are so lucky to have had that protection!

    • Tara Lane

      yes – i’m so glad i was able to get it (and you too!). a short temporary situation is fine with me if it will prevent something so terrible down the road.

  • Rebecca

    Same thing happened to me, and for the second and third everyone just assumed I was psyching myself out since I’d had a fainting spell after the first. Good to know it’s not just a psychological reaction…

    • Tara Lane

      i am already so surprised at the reactions from this – it seems to be much more common than anyone is realizing. the fact that my doctor hadn’t had it happen to anyone int their office before is shocking to me.

  • Brett

    we need a thread to talk about the TC party last night?!!???????

    • Perfect Circles

      Trust me – we don’t.

  • cabbage

    I don’t understand how you could have written this article without discussing the risks of HPV vaccines – or without explaining WHY 2,000 people a year experience seizures following injection – why does everyone dismiss this as a normal side effect?!?

    Gardisil contains extremely high amounts of metal (ALUMINIUM) which is TOXIC to your body and has been linked to cancer (this is why certain brands of anti-perspirants, like Tom’s, make it a point to not use aluminium as an active ingredient). Not only that, Gardisil also contains formaldehyde which is ALSO toxic to the body, and in fact, is used as a preservative at morgues,  FOR EMBALMING DEAD PEOPLE.
    Your gyno gets money (per shot) from the insurance companies every time he/she administers the vaccine. Lastly, gardisil protects against just a few types of HPV. Most HPV clears the body within two years. Just think about this. 

    • Annie_Chan5

       The few types of HPV it protects against being the dangerous kinds that cause cancer, as opposed to the strains that don’t pose serious risks to your health.
      But if you wanna skip on it because it doesn’t prevent finger warts, that’s your prerogative.

      • CABBAGE

        Annie, all I ask is that you take a look at this:

        Yes, HPV can lead to cancer. The question I’m posing is not whether or not Gardisil can actually protect women from developing cervical cancer, but it’s whether or not it’s safe enough, whether or not the “side effects” outweigh this slight protection. It’s a choice that every mother, every daughter, every woman has to make, but she cannot make it without being educated about it. I would just like to urge everyone to do more research about the product before committing to the vaccines. Chances are that your OBGYN will not tell you about the side effects because as I mentioned before, money > your well being. 

        P.S. I already had HPV and fought it off with a good diet and herbal supplements over 1.5 years. 
        Still will not ever get Gardisil. 

  • Hannah

    the shot hurts like a motherfucker.

  • Jessie

    Cabbage, your post is full of misinformation. Tom’s doesn’t include aluminium in some of their products because there is a widespread rumor about the cancer link. According to the National Cancer Institute:  However, researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a part of the National Institutes of Health, are not aware of any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates food, cosmetics, medicines, and medical devices, also does not have any evidence or research data that ingredients in underarm antiperspirants or deodorants cause cancer.

    As for your comment that “Most HPV clears the body within two years”, this is not true. Neither the CDC nor NIH has confirmed this. 

  • Anonymous



    • a.

      learn to type.

      • Anonymous

        it’s on purpose. if you were from around here, you’d know that, but thnx for playing.

  • Hannah

    we had the injection done at school a couple of years ago and a few girls fainted/passed out. luckily i was fine with it but it does hurt!

  • Email4mel2

    Gardasil is pure shit! its deadly and I cant believe I even got a shot during my teen years! it makes me wonder if my current health problems have anything to do with vaccines or antibiotics I used to take.

    but let me qask you this, why the FUCK  would you ever go back for that same shit that gave you a seizure as soon as it hit your bloodstream? that vaccine can actually bring on cervical cancer! best of luck in the future!

  • Perfect Circles

    I’m going to send you an HPV culture for your birthday this year.

  • Kate

    My ex-hippy mother didn’t want me to get Gardasil when I was in high school because she was suspicious that doctors only recommended it because they got paid per shot.  I didn’t feel strongly about it either way at the time.  Now, I’m 20 and I have recently contracted genital warts (caused by a strain of HPV that Gardasil protects against). It’s embarrassing and I’m not particularly promiscuous.  I just have to wait for them to go away on their own. 

    Kinda wish I had just decided for myself to get the shot. 

  • Bjkdsfjdsf

    Are you fucking kidding me? Do your fucking research on vaccines, you’ve done a little, and STILL would get a vaccination, what even. 

    • Annie_Chan5

      Clearly all people who disagree with you are uninformed.

  • Frida

    is it bad that i only got one of the shots?
    the first time my arm got really swollen but i think i just didn’t go back because we forgot about it.

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  • Dana Hope McWrennykins

    The same thing happened to me.  All three times.  One minute I was getting the shot, and the next I’m on the ground waiting for a nurse to squeeze a Capri Sun into my mouth.  The Gardasil also made me really sick for about two weeks after the shot.  Fever, vomiting, and all that other fun stuff.  Interesting that other people have had the same reaction.  

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