New concerns about HPV vaccine

August 18, 2009 3:24:09 PM PDT
There are new concerns about the HPV vaccine that prevents cervical cancer in women. A study looked at side effects from the shot. The vaccine is only the second approved vaccine with the potential to prevent cancer. Three years and more than 23 million doses after its distribution began, the study reviewed its safety record.

The human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine is approved for females between the ages of 9 and 26 to prevent infections that may lead to cervical cancer and genital warts.

Distribution of the vaccine began in June 2006, and the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System(VAERS), run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA, began tracking health problems voluntarily reported following vaccinations.

"For 23 million doses that have been sent out, we've received 12,424 reports of adverse events in the VAERS system," the CDC's Dr. Barbara Slade said.

Dr. Slade led research analyzing all VAERS reports for the HPV vaccine through the end of 2008. The study, featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association, classified 772 of the reports, or about 6 percent as "serious," including 32 deaths.

Fainting topped the list of overall adverse events, with nearly 1,900 episodes reported - 93 with serious consequences.

"If people faint, they can fall, hit their head, have a concussion, break a bone," Dr. Slade said.

Other adverse events commonly reported included dizziness, nausea, headaches and injection site reactions.

As with all vaccines licensed in the U.S., safety monitoring through the VAERS system will continue indefinitely.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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