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How Safe is the HPV Cervical Cancer Vaccine?

Parents of teenage girls, who are due to receive the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) cervical cancer vaccine, continue to question whether the jab is safe.

HPV is the name given to a group of viruses which can affect the skin and the moist membranes that line different parts of the body such as the mouth, throat and genital area.

According to the NHS, the HPV vaccine is “very safe” although at least 1 in 10 people who receive the jab will suffer what are termed as, “common side effects.” These include pain, swelling and bruising around the injection site, headaches, muscle pains, fatigue and nausea.

Concerns about how safe the vaccine is however, continue to mount as a growing number of families have reported seeing their previously fit and healthy daughters disabled by mysterious neurological disorders shortly after receiving the jabs. Reported symptoms have included exhaustion, extreme dizziness, and a lack of co-ordination.

Two HPV vaccines are currently available in the UK - Cervarix and Gardasil, which, between them, protect against four of the principle strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women under the age of 35. Around 3,000 cases of invasive cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK, resulting in around 970 deaths.

The national immunisation programme against the disease began in 2008. All girls aged 12 to 13 are routinely offered the vaccination as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme. The vaccine - which consists of two injections into the upper arm or thigh, spaced at least six and not more than 24 months apart - is delivered mainly through secondary schools, and is usually given to girls in year eight at schools in England.

Research has indicated that the vaccine protects against cervical cancer for at least 20 years. It is estimated that around 400 deaths could be prevented each year in the UK as a result of vaccinating girls before they are infected with HPV.

A recent article published in the journal Clinical Rheumatology, warned that chronic pain conditions are “more frequent after HPV vaccination.” Researchers have warned that fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) – a long-term condition which causes widespread pain - and a potentially permanent disorder of the nervous system, called postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), seem to be linked to the jabs. PoTS is thought to be caused by disturbances to the immune system and can lead to dizziness, an inability to concentrate and disabling fatigue.

In January, a study of more than 50 girls and young women in the Danish Medical Journal concluded that they were all suffering from various types of neurological damage consistent with “suspected side-effects to the HPV vaccine.” Another study, in the European Journal of Neurology, also suggested a link after examining cases of young women who had developed PoTS within weeks of receiving HPV vaccines.

Last September, public health analysts at Queen Mary University of London questioned the “weak evidence” used by the World Health Organisation in 2009 to justify HPV mass vaccination programmes, warning that data on long-term efficacy was “lacking.”

The UK medicines watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), operates what is known as the “Yellow Card Scheme,” where both doctors and the public can report side-effects of drugs.

In 2009, an MHRA paper revealed that more than 300 schoolgirls every year were reporting serious side-effects from HPV jabs that included severe pain and nervous disorders such as facial palsy. The MHRA received 3,972 Yellow Cards between 2010 and 2013, of which 940 were categorised as serious.

Despite this, MPs are now pushing for the HPV vaccine to be offered to schoolboys as well as girls, as a method for reducing penile cancer. Many are now suggesting that before the current HPV programme is doubled to include boys, all the evidence regarding potentially damaging side effects must first be properly examined.

Vaccines are only ever approved for the public once clinical trials have shown that the benefits of the vaccination outweigh any risks associated with their use. Clinical trial data is always independently scrutinised before vaccines are approved for use.

The mysterious illnesses some families have reported afflicting their children following HPV jabs are rare when compared to the numbers of girls who don’t report suffering any side effects at all. They may, indeed, have nothing to do with the jabs, but, if it turns out that anyone has suffered damage as a result of these drugs, they must of course have their cases acknowledged, treated and justly compensated.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers help people who have suffered from delayed or wrong diagnosis of cancer due to Medical Negligence.

For a free consultation call the Medical Negligence Solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and we will call you.

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