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
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