Doubts have been raised over the safety of the Cervarix vaccine this week, following the tragic death of 14-year-old Natalie Morton after being given the jab at her Coventry school.
About 1.4 million Cervarix vaccines have been given to schoolgirls aged 12 and over as part of the Governments’ national campaign to combat cervical cancer. Coupled with screening for over-25’s, potentially 700 lives a year could be saved.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women under thirty five, resulting in 3,000 cases a year, and causing the death of 21 females each week in the UK or around 1000 per year. Seventy percent of these can be prevented by using one of the HPV vaccines available. Ninety nine percent of all cervical cancers are caused by HPV, or human papillomavirus, a family of viruses that affect the skin and moist membranes lining the body.
What is HPV?
Sometimes called the ‘wart virus’ or ‘genital wart virus’, HPV is passed by sexual contact with someone who has it. It’s very common and over half of all women who have sex will get infected with HPV at some time in their life.
HPV infects the cells of the surface of the cervix where it can stay for many years without any symptoms. The HPV virus can damage these cells leading to changes in their appearance, and over time, these changes can develop into cervical cancer.
There are over a hundred types of the HPV virus, but only thirteen of them are known to cause cancer. Often the virus causes no harm, and goes away without treatment.
How the vaccine works :
The HPV vaccine protects against the two strains of HPV (16 and 18) that cause cervical cancer in over 70% of women. Cervarix protects against types 16 and 18 and the rival vaccine Gardasil protects against types 16 and 18 and also the benign types 6 and 11. It does not protect against any other sexually transmitted infections or against pregnancy.
How safe is the vaccine?
Both major anti-cervical cancer vaccines, Cervarix and Gardasil, have undergone rigorous safety testing as part of the licensing process required in the UK and other European countries (PATRICIA and FUTURE II research). www.cancerhelp.org.uk
Possible side effects :
The side effects are usually mild and include :
• Aching muscles
• Redness and soreness around the site of the injection
• Feeling and being sick
• Stomach pain
• Itching, rash
The Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (or MHRA) monitors vaccine safety via the Yellow Card Scheme which encourages the reporting of suspected side effects. You can report adverse reactions online or by post.
A small number of people experience an idiosyncratic or unpredictable reaction, similar to an anaphylactic shock. Extreme allergic reactions are a rare but recognised side effects of most vaccines, and symptoms include difficulty breathing and collapse.
When side effects do occur, the health professional giving the vaccine will have been fully trained in how to effectively deal with it. If you or your child has an anaphylactic reaction, following treatment, they will usually fully recover within a few hours.
Posted by Freedomhealth