The Human Papillomavirus vaccine is a topic of debate. An increase in media anecdotes have caused U.S. vaccination rates to stagnate far below optimum levels for protection. As of 2014, only 40% of girls ages 13 to 17 had completed the three-vaccine course of HPV immunization. 5,000 fewer Irish schoolgirls opted to receive the vaccine in the last academic year compared to the 2014/2015 cycle.
We’ve compiled a list of medical expert quotes and major research findings surrounding the HPV vaccine so you can make an informed decision.
What Research Shows
The World Health Organization Global Advisory Committee for Vaccine Safety (GACVS) reviewed the evidence on the safety of Gardasil vaccine (aka. HPV vaccine). WHO concluded in December 2015 that Gardasil continues to have an excellent safety profile and has no link to any serious illnesses.
A cohort study of approximately 1 million girls found no evidence supporting associations between exposure to the human papillomavirus vaccine and autoimmune, neurological, and venous thromboembolic adverse affects.
What The Experts Say:
Speaking about chronic fatigue, the NHS state:
“There have been reports in the press alleging that girls have developed chronic fatigue syndrome after HPV vaccination. There are no more cases of CFS than would be expected in teenage girls naturally and there is no evidence to link CFS to the HPV vaccine.”
Planned Parenthood on the safety of the HPV vaccine:
“As with any vaccine, there is a very small risk of an allergic reaction. If you have a fast heartbeat, high fever, hives, rash, or weakness, call your health care provider right away. Be reassured that severe reactions like this are extremely rare, in the order of around one in a million.
The most common side effects are bruising, itching, redness, swelling, or tenderness around the area where the shot is given. Women may also experience dizziness, fainting, mild fever, nausea, and vomiting. But these symptoms do not last long and usually pass on their own.”
Professor Margaret Stanley (OBE, Cambridge University) is acknowledged in her field as a leading research scientist in HPV and cervical cancer:
“The HPV vaccine is safe and will save lives – the evidence shows this. More than 200 million doses have been delivered to more than 75 million people worldwide. Large studies looking at 3-4 million women, vaccinated and un-vaccinated found no evidence whatsoever that HPV vaccination causes any immune or nervous system disorders. As someone who has worked throughout her professional life to prevent the scourge of cervical cancer in women, I am confident that this vaccine against HPV, the cause of this cancer, can prevent cervical cancers, saving lives and suffering in millions of women around the world.”
Why Is There A Backlash Against The HPV Vaccine?
There is a concern is that without the fear of genital warts or cervical cancer young people will become more promiscuous, and that the HPV vaccine therefore in effect encourages behaviour that some deem immoral. However it is documented that teenagers who receive the HPV vaccine tend to be far more aware of sexual health than their un-vaccinated peers, and research shows quite clearly that sexual activity is not elevated in the vaccinated group.
HPV causes almost 100% of cervical cancer which has claimed the lives of 270,000 women in 2012 alone.
Read more about HPV and Cervical Cancer.
Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley