HPV Vaccination Update

Kathleen Harder-Brouwer, MD
Ravalli Family Medicine
411 West Main Street
Hamilton MT 59840

HPV Vaccination Update
Like most Americans today, I visit Facebook on occasion (okay, more than that) to keep up with what my friends and family are doing (okay, to see crazy cat videos). One thing that keeps popping up on my feed are articles about the significant risks with the HPV vaccine.

There is enough bad information circulating today that needs to be addressed to avoid having yet another good vaccine treated badly. Before addressing the negative reports, a brief recap of HPV and the vaccine itself is
warranted. HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus. This is not one virus, but more a family of viruses all genetically related. Nine out of ten Americans will have a HPV infection at some point in their lives. Just like the common cold, which is another virus, most of us will
clear this infection. However, a few of the family members in the HPV line are associated with serious outcomes, including the development of cervical cancer in women. Some of the other worrisome complications of HPV include genital warts, rectal cancer, and oropharyngeal cancer. There are currently three vaccines available to help protect against HPV. These vaccines do not confer immunity against all HPV, but against the very serious
strains that are related to the serious outcomes.

As with all medications, before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a vaccine, safety data is extensively reviewed. Safety is also monitored after approval. The most common side effects of the HPV vaccine include fainting, dizziness, nausea, headache,
fever, and a reaction at the injection site. There is also the very rare side effect of an allergic reaction to the vaccine, which can occur with any vaccine administration. However, the very serious side effects that are frequently referenced on social media have not been proven in the medical literature. The most serious reaction that has allegedly been caused by HPV is premature ovarian failure. This is a condition where a woman will transition into a menopausal state at a very young age. The fears about this condition have been
encouraged by an organization known at the American College of Pediatricians. While this sounds like an official medical organization, it is an advocacy group founded to promote a social agenda, rather than evidence based medicine. Many of their positions go against the
mainstream medical community. The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to encourage vaccination against HPV, as does the American Academy of Family Physicians
and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As of 2016, there were 6 cases of premature ovarian failure reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and an
investigation into these reports and the FDA and CDC have found no evidence that the vaccine may be causing premature ovarian failure.

Most parents should enter into a healthy conversation with their child's health care provider regarding the risks and benefits of medical therapies. This being said, parents should not put more faith in an internet post than in the opinion of their health care provider. The Internet has a place...it is the place to watch cat videos.

This week's health column is collaboration between Ravalli Family Medicine and Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital. For questions regarding the health topic please contact Kathleen Harder-Brouwer, MD at Ravalli Family Medicine, 411 West Main Street, Hamilton MT 59840
or www.ravallifamilymedicine.com. Working together to build a healthier community.


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