Side effects of HPV vaccine for girls (GARDASIL SIDE EFFECTS, 2009)


My granddaughter is 15 1/2 and my daughter will not have her get the HPV vaccine because she says there are bad side effects.I'm sure she isn't sexually active but I'm worried that she will became so and get infected. What percentage of girls who get the vaccine experience side effects and what are the side effects?



Gardasil is considered to be a safe and effective vaccine; otherwise it wouldn't have gained FDA approval or still be on the market. Like almost all vaccines Gardasil can cause local discomfort, swelling, itching, bruising and redness at the injection site. It can also on rare occasions cause allergic reactions (like almost all medications and vaccines) with symptoms, such as hives and wheezing. There are also very rare reports of joint pain, seizures and various aches and pains. Whether these were a direct result of the vaccine is difficult to determine.

Please note there is a relatively small but very active and quite noisy group of people who are anti-vaccine. All vaccines! They are convinced, despite overwhelming and irrefutable scientific evidence to the contrary, that vaccines are dangerous and can cause autism and a wide array of other diseases. However, I must point out again the scientific evidence is overwhelming and indisputable that this is not the case.

There have been eight deaths reported in girls who had Gardasil vaccination and this information hit both the news media and the anti-vaccine folks recently! However, Merck, the company that manufactures Gardasil, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have continued to report Gardasil is safe, effective and extremely important! The CDC recently told CBS news: "We have found no connection between these deaths" and Gardasil. "We still recommend the vaccine for the health of women. There are about 20 million people currently infected with HPV. Women have an 80 percent chance of developing HPV by the time they are 50. HPV is most common in people in their late teens and early 20s. Because the vaccine is preventative and not curative, it is important that the vaccine be given prior to becoming sexual activity. About 11,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3,600 will die (this year). This vaccine prevents four viruses that account for about 70 percent of cervical cancers.

The CDC is conducting its own analysis of adverse events associated with Gardasil. Of 7,802 adverse reports submitted after Gardasil vaccination was approved in the US, "less than 7 percent of the reported adverse events were considered serious, about half the average for vaccines overall!" It's important to point out that a vaccine adverse-event report does not mean there is an actual connection or even association between the vaccine and the event. It merely means an event took place following vaccination. The only thing the CDC noted was that some kids faint after getting a Gardasil shot and so they recommend doctors keep vaccinated patients in the office for 15 minutes following their injection.

The FDA agrees with the CDC. The FDA made several points to CBS news:

  1. They were not surprised by the number or type of reported adverse events following Gardasil injection.

  2. They are continuing to monitor Gardasil's safety carefully.

  3. Regarding the reports on fainting, they said syncope (fainting) is a common event occurring with needle injections and vaccinations, especially in adolescents.

  4. Most adverse events (94%) reported were not serious and included reports of syncope, pain, headache, nausea and fever. Serious adverse events are followed up by telephone interviews to gain additional information.

  5. Passive surveillance systems, such as adverse-event reports are prone to bias.

Since the vaccine was originally released, the FDA has made one revision to the label under the "Post-marketing Reports" section. It now includes syncope, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and hypersensitivity reactions (allergic reactions).

So the bottom line is that the CDC and the FDA agree: Gardasil is safe, effective and potentially lifesaving. I agree with the CDC and FDA. If I had a young daughter I would certainly have her vaccinated! Please feel free to share this information with your daughter. Meanwhile I'll brace myself for the wave of anti-vaccine activists who are undoubtedly furiously typing a furious message to me regarding their beliefs that vaccines are evil. They are entitled to their beliefs. However, that doesn't change scientific fact. I'll repost below some information from the archives on Gardasil.

Thanks for your question!

Dr. Bob

HPV Vaccine Jun 10, 2007

Why are folks at my church so concerned about the HPV vaccine?

Response from Dr. Frascino


Good question!!! Actually, I really don't quite understand exactly what it is that some parents don't understand about Gardasil, the HPV vaccine licensed last year to help prevent most cases of genital warts and cervical cancer!

The facts are quite clear:

  1. HPV (human papillomavirus) disease is the most common sexually transmitted disease.

  2. There is no treatment for HPV infection.

  3. HPV can cause cervical cancer. (Seventy percent of cervical cancers are caused by two variants of HPV. The HPV vaccine protects against these two variants.)

  4. Most people infected with HPV do not know they are infected, yet can transmit the virus to unsuspecting sexual partners.

  5. Twenty percent of American girls 14 to 19 years of age are already infected with HPV.

  1. The vaccine only works if administered before the women become infected by the viral variants covered by the vaccine.

So what about the objections being raised by some parents:

The most egregious is the ridiculous notion that immunizing young girls against HPV will encourage promiscuity. This is another fallacy proposed by the misguided "abstinence-only" folks. It has been scientifically shown that the abstinence-only message is rarely, if ever, effective. Half of American girls become sexually active before graduating from high school. Even if this weren't the case, why would a vaccine make girls sexually indulgent? Even rudimentary sex education knowledge would advise that HPV is only one of many potential STDs, and certainly not protective against unwanted pregnancy!

The backlash against HPV vaccines is yet another harmful side effect of Dubya's "faith-based science" mythology.

Is it 2008 yet?

Dr. Bob