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Posts Tagged ‘hpv vaccine’

10 reasons you should have the HPV vaccine

Posted by hannahflynn on October 1, 2009

Following the tragic death of a fourteen year-old girl just two hours after receiving the HPV vaccine as part of the UK’s policy to vaccinate all girls under 18, the media has been awash with confused stories regarding the safety of the jab.

The first stages of the postmortem showed she had an underlying health problem, most likely a heart defect which would commonly present for the first time at this age, which was the cause of her sudden death.

However, when the story broke, before the first results from the postmortem became available the media insinuated the HPV vaccine may have caused in her death. 

It is important we do not have a vaccination scare on the scale of the MMR, and young girls (and perhaps their families) are comfortable receiving this potentially life saving jab.

Therefore, here are ten reasons you should have the HPV vaccine:

1. It protects against the two types of HPV which cause 70% of cervical cancers.

2. Women have, on average, a 1.6% chance of developing cervical cancer in their life time; there is less than a 1 in a million chance of severe anaphylaxis due to this vaccine (3).

3. Cervical cancer kills 1,000 women every year in the UK. It is thought the vaccination programme could save 400 of them.

4. The risks are low. All vaccines carry risk, but the HPV vaccine has shown few contraindications. The most common side effect is ‘sore arm’.

5. 50% of sexually active women contract HPV by the time they are 30 .

6. Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise which can increase your susceptibility to HPV and increase your risk of cervical cancer up to six times (1). For example, women who also have genital herpes are more likely to get more invasive forms of cervical cancer (2).

7. Cancer is a killer, but not only that. Treatment for cervical cancer can include surgery and chemotherapy which can leave you infertile, or with difficulty conceiving. This has happened to many women in their twenties.

8. We need as many people as possible to be vaccinated in order to reduce the prevalence of HPV in the population. Normally, vaccination programmes require 80% of the whole population (men included) to be vaccinated in order to eliminate a disease.

9. Promiscuity alone does not cause cervical cancer, as one third of women with only one sexual partner contract HPV within one year. As previously mentioned, 50% of women have been exposed to HPV by the time they are 30.

10. The NHS (and many other health authorities) have emphasised the importance of, and have promised to continue cervical screening. But there is no reason to not use belt and braces girls!

1. P Koskela, T Anttila, T Bjørge, A Brunsvig. (2000). Chlamydia trachomatis infection as a risk factor for invasive cervical cancer.International journal of cancer.
2. 2003. Cervical cancer risk rises if women with HPV also have herpes infection. International Family Planning Perspectives
3.  D. Cooper, (2007). Determinants of sexual activity and its relation to cervical cancer risk among South African Women. BMC Public Health

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‘Cervical cancer vaccine side-effects’ in Daily Mail

Posted by hannahflynn on March 9, 2009

The Daily Mail reported 1,300 girls had experienced adverse side-effects after receiving the cervical cancer vaccine “with 2,891 different adverse effects noted”.

The Mail does mention these figures have been obtained from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), from reports by doctors and has noted the responses from three separate parties: Government ‘health experts’, Jab (a vaccine support group) and Jo Trust (a cervical cancer awareness and support charity). All have stated the risks are minimal and are to be expected when 700,000 women have been vaccinated.

While some of the adverse affects noted are to be expected from a vaccination programme, pain and swelling at injection site and in some cases anaphalyxis, The Mail’s reporting elsewhere in the article is a classic example of the issues raised when correlation is used to imply causation.

It would be hard to find a link between a long-term mental illness, anorexia, and a vaccine but that is what is implied by The Mail.

Similarly, Bell’s Palsey, Guillain-Barré syndrome and an epileptic fit are all serious conditions, but when one person out of 700,000 has reported this occurring after receiving the jab, the levels of significance are pretty much incalculable.

No variables in the individual’s concerned are noted, and nor is the recent change in the way adverse reactions to drugs are recorded.

The NHS recently reported a high uptake in its Yellow Card scheme, which improved to make it easier for patients to report any concerns they have with their medications, over the past couple of years. It is recommended: “Even if you are not sure whether a medicine that you are taking is causing other symptoms, it is best to report it”. These are recorded by the MHRA.

The effects of reporting claims of this seriousness without providing context are evident in the comments section. Not available during the last vaccine scare (MMR) caused by bad reporting in the media, the general public’s response to these stories is now indisputable.

Stephanie, UK states:

“”Ministers say it will ultimately save 700 lives a year.”

That would be 0.1% of the 700,000 girls vaccinated so far, in percentage terms lives saved will decrease as more are vaccinated.

“But Government health experts insisted the Cervarix vaccine was safe and that the total of 1,340 reports was to be expected, given that more than 700,000 girls were vaccinated last year.”

0.19% of the 700,000 girls vaccinated experienced adverse side effects, almost twice the percentage of the ‘obvious benefit’.”

She then asks, “Why is it necessary to vaccinate all young girls to save 700 lives per year?”

When will the media bother to answer this question?

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