‘Science Says’ Sunday – HPV and the HPV Vaccine

Another ‘Science Says’ Sunday is here and this one came HIGHLY requested, so here’s some info about the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and the HPV vaccine you will want to read!
First, let’s start with what HPV is and what it does:

What: HPV is one of THE most common sexually transmitted infections in humans. Since there are often no symptoms, it’s difficult to know whether the person is infected or not. A person can be infected with the virus for years and not have symptoms until years later. There are different types of HPV (just like the different strains of the flu virus we talked about last week, remember??), and the different types can result in different outcomes (see the What does HPV do? below).

Who, What, and When: It can be transmitted during any sexual encounter that involves vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. Anyone can get it, even if the person has only had sex with one single person.

What does HPV do? In most people, the virus ‘goes away’ on its own, much like the body would clear a cold virus. However, in some cases, the virus remains ‘hidden’ or ‘sleeping’ in the body. When that happens, it can lead to things like genital warts, cervical cancer, or mouth/throat cancer, specifically cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils. It can also cause other cancers like cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. The strains that cause cervical cancer are not the same as the ones that cause genital warts.

What can you do to prevent infection?? I know that vaccines can be scary and there was A LOT of interest about the HPV vaccine, specifically when I asked about topics to cover for this series. I totally get it. This vaccine was not around when people my age (late 30s-40s) were growing up, and much like any new thing, there is a lot of talk about it. Peer-reviewed studies (those that have super strict guidelines for assessing how valid a study is and who funded it and whether the results can be generalized to all populations affected, for example), show that the vaccine is SAFE and helps PREVENT the diseases caused by HPV infection.

Who should get the vaccine and when: Current guidelines recommend that the vaccine for those who are ages 11 or 12 (or you can start at 9 years old) for both boys and girls. Adults aged 27-45 who have not been vaccinated can speak with their healthcare provider about their risk for new infections and consideration about whether or not to get the HPV vaccine. Scientific evidence does suggest that the HPV vaccine provides less benefit when people have a higher likelihood of having been already exposed to HPV. People used to think that HPV only lead to cervical cancer and if cervical cancer is a woman’s disease, then why do boys need the vaccine too. Here’s where we get into what ‘herd immunity’ is and WHY vaccines are SO IMPORTANT for the general population. The ONLY way to fully eradicate (get rid of complete) a disease, is to have everyone – or as close to it – free of disease. So herd immunity works by making sure that a large enough proportion of the population is vaccinated so that the majority can protect the few people who can’t be vaccinated (like babies, older individuals who are sick, people with cancer, people getting chemotherapy, etc). So, in order to prevent cancer and all the other diseases caused by HPV, we need to get the HPV vaccine and both boys and girls need to get it before the first time they have sex. It doesn’t mean that getting the HPV vaccine will make them ready to have sex (especially at 9-11 years of age) it just means they will be protected when they do, even if the first time isn’t until they are 30. 🙂

HPV vaccine risks: This is a point of contention for many and there is so much mis-information about this out there. Here is what we know: We have now had data on the vaccine that spans 12 years. In that time, clinical trials, use by many in the general community, reports to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) all agree that the vaccine is SAFE TO USE with MINIMAL risks. Overwhelming data suggests that the most frequent side effects include dizziness after getting the vaccine and something called syncope (fainting), which sometimes happen to people generally when getting any shot, the HPV shot included. While blogs and the anti-vax community has stated that the HPV vaccine leads to adverse effects such as death, there is no evidence to suggest that the HPV vaccine has been directly responsible (ie, no evidence to suggest HPV is causal for death as an outcome) for any deaths in individuals who have gotten the vaccine to date.
This summary comes from evidence provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and highly reviewed, scientifically regarded studies published in peer-reviewed journals with no conflicts to declare.

For more information and to peruse the sources for today’s post, please visit:

‘Science Says’ Sunday – The Flu Shot

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There are so many questions out there about science and health, and so many people willing to share misinformed and/or non-evidence based information, that I decided to create a ‘Science Says’ Sunday series. I polled the Instagram Community and came up with this series to share evidence-based information with you on a number of science and health-related topics. There will be one posted every Sunday, so stay tuned!

In today’s post, we are talking about the flu and the flu shot. Lots of misconceptions out there, so here are some myths and facts:

MYTH: You can get the flu from the flu shot/vaccine.

  1. You CANNOT get the flu from the flu vaccine. People who get sick after the flu vaccine were going to get sick anyway. It takes 1-2 weeks to be fully protected from the flu after getting the vaccine, so it is still possible to get sick during that time. That’s why it’s important to get the flu shot as early as possible when it’s offered every fall (usually Sept/Oct).


MYTH: Getting the flu is better than getting the flu vaccine.

False. The flu a serious viral infection and can be especially serious in children and older adults, not to mention people who are immunocompromised (eg people undergoing chemotherapy) or babies who are too young to be vaccinated against the flu. The vaccine works best if everyone gets it; it minimizes the amount of people who get sick and can transmit disease to others.


MYTH: The flu shot contains harmful ingredients.

Vaccine skeptics have centered on this and cited Thimerosal (preservative) and formaldehyde (used to kill the virus) among the harmful chemicals used in the making or preservation of the flu vaccine. REPEATED, peer-reviewed studies have shown that these substances are not harmful in the tiny amounts contained in flu vaccines.


MYTH: You don’t need to get a flu shot every year.

The influenza virus changes (mutates) each year. So getting vaccinated each year is important to make sure you have immunity to the strains most likely to cause an outbreak. Getting the flu vaccine has also been associated with less severe symptoms even if you do end up getting the flu, so it’s worth getting it either way.


MYTH: It’s too late to get your flu shot this year.

Though flu season is well underway, it is NOT too late to get your shot, since the season typically continues into February or beyond.

Other concerns:

The flu vaccine can cause severe side effects. The flu vaccine has been associated with the onset of Guillain-Barré Syndome (GBS), in very rare cases. It has been reported in 1 in 1 million people who get the flu vaccine. The exact cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome is unknown. But it is often preceded by an infectious illness such as a respiratory infection or the stomach flu. It is possible that cases associated with the flu would have developed even in the absence of getting the flu vaccine.

Information for this post was sourced from the Centers for Disease Control, The World Health Organization, the Harvard Health Blog, and Dr. Andrea Carcelen of John Hopkins University. Thanks for reading and look forward to sharing more with you this year!

yours truly, dr. b



Y’all. This month, I had the opportunity to preview inventory for the Junior League of Birmingham’s Annual Bargain Bash and Carousel and lemme tell ya…you are not gonna want to miss these events!!

What is the Junior League of Birmingham?
The Junior League of Birmingham (JLB) is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is to improve the community by delivering services and
assistance to those in need through partnerships with community partner agencies.

JLB is one of the largest Junior League organizations in the world, with nearly 2,300 members. As one of the largest volunteer service organizations in Alabama, JLB has nearly 1,000 active volunteers, hailing from 50+ zip codes in four counties throughout the Birmingham metro area. These volunteers
contribute nearly $2,500,000 into the Birmingham community through a combination of approximately 55,000 hours of service and financial support.

Learn more about the Junior League of Birmingham by visiting www.jlbonline.com or on social media: Facebook, www.facebook.com/JuniorLeagueBirmingham; Twitter, @JLBirmingham; Instagram, @jlbirmingham or with the hashtags #EngageInspireLead and #JLBirmingham.

How does shopping at Bargain Carousel impact the community?
Bargain Carousel provides the local community with the opportunity to purchase gently used merchandise, including necessities like clothes, furniture, and large appliances, as well as children’s toys, infant items, kitchen items, linens, art, books, outdoor and home improvement equipment, and much more with the added benefit of raising money to fund JLB Programs. This is not your typical garage sale! JLB programs serve those in need in the metro area, including initiatives related to domestic violence, human trafficking, homelessness, juvenile crime, healthy living, job readiness, personal finances and education.

When you purchase a ticket to Bargain Bash and/or Bargain Carousel, when you purchase merchandise, or when you purchase Auction items at Bargain Bash, you are helping to fund the 38 community projects that the JLB supports, such as the JLB Diaper Bank, JLB Second Servings Program, JLB Essentials Pantry Program, Children in Crisis through our partnership with the YWCA, or Mobile Food Pantry through our partnership with the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama. Because the Junior League of Birmingham (JLB) provides both direct funding and trained volunteers to the community, your supports helps to double the JLB’s impact.


When you first walk in, you’re faced with the baby section. ADORABLENESS abounds. If you have babies, toddlers, or little kids, this section is for you. Clothing, toys, you name it – it is for sale.




The end of the school year is coming and doesn’t your child’s teacher need another coffee mug or water bottle to get them through the summer?? Of course they do! Pick up a few for less than $1 each in this section.



Bag lover like me? Eat your heart out, baby. Bargain Carousel’s got bags like you wouldn’t imagine!





The most exciting part, in my opinion, was the massive quantity of household items. You could literally furnish a home with all the amazing things they have available. Towels, rugs, kitchen ware, electronics, yard equipment, sports equipment…I mean, it’s endless! I left my heart with a super adorable and functional laundry sorter that retails for $40 and was selling for $4. It didn’t fit in my car y’all. UGH.




Now on to the important details…


  1. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You will be shopping in huge warehouse with tons of people. Think Black Friday crowds and better than Black Friday prices. Bring yo’ shopping GAME.
  2. Bring a large bag (or two) to throw the small stuff in. There will be shopping carts around, but if you don’t manage to grab one early on, you’ll want bags to carry your loot in.
  3. Make a list. It can be super overwhelming to walk in and see all the amazingness that is the Bargain Carousel inventory. SO, make a list of the things that you need at home, presents you need to buy (yes, they have BRAND NEW STUFF around), or things that your friends and family want/need.
  4. BRING A TRUCK, or large car. I mentioned earlier that there was a super cute laundry hamper that I really wanted but was unable to load in my car. If you can’t fit it in your car, you’re gonna lose out. Find a friend with a truck and buy them a ticket to shop with you in exchange for their truck and you’re golden.
  5. Arrive early! You’re gonna want to get the pick of the litter, so arrive early if you can.
  6. Buy Bargain Bash tickets! Can’t make it Saturday or Sunday?? No worries, get you a sitter, buy bargain bash tickets and do some shopping while sippin’ on champs and eating taco bites. Perfect girl’s night out and you get some shopping done. 🙂

Now on the the specifics. Tickets are officially on sale and will be at the door as well, so read the info below carefully to make sure you plan accordingly.

About Bargain Carousel

The Junior League of Birmingham proudly presents Bargain Carousel, a 1000-family garage sale, to the Birmingham community. Labeled the “largest garage sale in Birmingham”, JLB volunteers provide over 7,000 hours of service and over 100,000 items through member donations. Bargain Carousel provides the local community with the opportunity to purchase gently used merchandise, including many of life’s necessities, at very affordable prices, such as clothing, furniture, large appliances, children’s toys, infant items, kitchen items, linens, art, books, outdoor, home improvement equipment, and much, much more. You can shop with the added benefit of knowing that the money raised is returned directly to the Birmingham community to fund the 38 Community Projects the JLB supports. This is not your typical garage sale!

JLB programs serve those in need in the Birmingham metro area, including initiatives related to domestic violence, human trafficking, homelessness, juvenile crime, healthy living, job readiness, personal finances and education.

Every $40 purchase of merchandise at Bargain Carousel, provides necessities for 4 survivors of sexual violence through our partnership with The Crisis Center, 10 meals for homeless women and children through our partnership with Pathways, or diapers for one child in need for a month through the JLB Diaper Bank.

Because the JLB provides both direct funding and trained volunteers to the community, your supports helps to double the JLB’s impact.

Bargain Bash

Thursday, April 25

6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Tickets $40

Please join the Junior League of Birmingham for an evening of early access to all of the merchandise that will be sold at Bargain Carousel. Enjoy fabulous food from local businesses, incredible auction items and early bird shopping at bargain prices. All Bargain Bash shoppers pay double the sticker price and sales tax will be added at the point of purchase on all merchandise. Bid numbers are issued with ticket purchase. Be a part of this wonderful night as we raise awareness and funds for our 38 community projects, which have made a positive impact on the Birmingham community for over 96 years.


Every $40 ticket purchased to Bargain Bash provides necessities for 4 survivors of sexual violence through our partnership with The Crisis Center, 10 meals for homeless women and children through our partnership with Pathways, or diapers for one child in need for a month through the JLB’s Diaper Bank.

All merchandise sells for double the ticket price during Bargain Bash. Sales tax will be added at the point of purchase for all merchandise.

Bargain Carousel

Saturday, April 27


Tickets for Saturday admission go on sale Friday, April 26, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Bargain Carousel space (5201 Princeton Way, Hoover, Alabama 35226).

These are not available online as they are sold in order, allowing for shoppers to enter in ticket number order on Saturday morning.

  • Patrons can purchase up to 4 tickets/person.
  • Sale is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • The cost is $10 for Saturday entry between 8 a.m. and noon and $5 from noon to 5 p.m.
  • Tickets can also be purchased at the door.
  • Sales tax will be added at the point of purchase for all merchandise.

Join in on the fun with appearances by the Hoover Fire Department, face painting by Pink Fancy Face, and live music from Cordero King, as well as food trucks, such as Nothing Bundt Cakes, City Bowls, Heavenly
Donut Company, Eugene’s Hot Chicken, Cheezin’, Swamp Monster BBQ, iCantina, and Pazzo’s Big Slice Pizza.

Bargain Carousel

Sunday, April 28


Admission is free, and merchandise is half price. This year we are asking for donations of diapers and/or wipes to help support the JLB Diaper Bank. While not required for admission on Sunday, we would appreciate any donations you can provide.

Sales tax will be added at the point of purchase for all merchandise.
For more information, call 879-9861 or visit bargaincarousel.net.

I’ll be there Thursday, so I hope to see you there! Otherwise, let me know what goodies you end up with. I’ll share my finds on Instagram over the weekend. Happy shopping and for a good cause too!

yours truly, dr. b