By Eric W. Dolan
Thursday, October 11, 2012 20:22 EDT
Adolescent girls are not more likely to engage in sexual activity after receiving a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, according to a new study.
Last year, a Catholic school in Canada made headlines when it banned free HPV vaccinations for girls on orders from Bishop Frederick Henry. The bishop said giving the vaccine to girls promoted promiscuity.
But those concerns are unwarranted, the study has found.
Researchers in England found that adolescent girls who had been vaccinated, were no more likely to have changed their condom use or increased their total number of sexual partners than those who were unvaccinated.
The sexually-transmitted disease can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. Nearly 4,000 women die from cervical cancer every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By Rachael Rettner
Published October 02, 2012
Because these side effects were somewhat expected, and the study did not find any new safety concerns, the findings “support the general safety of routine vaccination,” the researchers said.
HPV viruses are sexually transmitted viruses that usually cause no symptoms, but persistent infections can lead to cervical cancer. Gardasil was approved in 2006, after studies showed it was safe for use in females ages 9 to 26. But because studies conducted before a vaccine’s approval are usually too small to detect rare side effects, researchers have continued to monitor the safety of the HPV vaccine.
In the new study, Nicola Klein, of Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center in Oakland, Calif., and colleagues analyzed information from about 189,600 girls and young women, who received a total of 350,000 doses of the HPV vaccine between 2006 and 2008. The researchers calculated the annual rate of each side effect they observed.
The researchers determined how likely participants were to be hospitalized or visit the emergency room for certain conditions in the 60 days after the vaccination, compared with a period many months after vaccination.
Injections in general are known to be linked with fainting, and so this result “is not unexpected,” the researchers said.
Unlike some earlier studies, the new study did not find an increased risk of blood clots linked with the vaccine. The researchers made sure to rule out side effects that were due to conditions the patients already had.
Ongoing studies of HPV are still needed to examine the risk of side effects, the researchers said. They noted that future studies should attempt to rule out effects that could be caused by pre-existing conditions.
The study was funded by Merck, and was published Monday in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Objective To assess the safety of the quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV4) in females following routine administration.
Design In a cohort of vaccinated females, we compared the risk of emergency department visits and hospitalizations during the interval soon after vaccination with risk during a comparison interval more remote from vaccination.
Setting Kaiser Permanente in California.
Participants All females who received the HPV4 vaccine.
Main Exposure One or more doses of HPV4 between August 2006 and March 2008.
Main Outcome Measures Outcomes were emergency department visits and hospitalizations, grouped into predefined diagnostic categories. Within diagnostic groups, we used odds ratios (ORs) to estimate whether each subject had any outcome in postvaccination risk intervals (days 1-60, days 1-14, and day 0), compared with a control interval distant in time from vaccination.
Results One hundred eighty-nine thousand six hundred twenty-nine females received at least 1 dose and 44 001 received 3 HPV4 doses. Fifty categories had significantly elevated ORs during at least 1 risk interval. Medical record review revealed that most diagnoses were present before vaccination or diagnostic workups were initiated at the vaccine visit. Only skin infections during days 1 to 14 (OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.3-2.4) and syncope on day of vaccination (OR, 6.0; 95% CI, 3.9-9.2) were noted by an independent Safety Review Committee as likely associations with HPV4.
Conclusions The quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine was associated with same-day syncope and skin infections in the 2 weeks after vaccination. This study did not detect evidence of new safety concerns among females 9 to 26 years of age secondary to vaccination with HPV4.
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