Posted by Sally O'Brien, on 01/09/2015. Tags: Parenting Secondary School News
Since 2010 the HPV vaccination
has been given to girls in post primary schools in Ireland in an effort to help prevent developing the HPV virus which in some women, can cause cervical cancer.
The vaccine is offered to all first-year post primary girls in schools and is administered by HSE vaccination teams. According to the HSE,
there are two vaccines currently licensed for the prevention of HPV infection:
Cervarix®, manufactured by GSK, protects against infection with two HPV types (16 and 18).
Gardasil®, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur MSD, protects against infection with four HPV types (6, 11, 16 and 18).
Gardasil is the vaccine currently used in the HSE HPV vaccination programme. The manufacturer's Patient information leaflet on Gardasil can be viewed here
The HSE vaccination programme has recently come under the spotlight over parents concerns about side effects caused by the antiviral drug. The HSE website outlines mild side effects which the antiviral drugs may cause including pain, redness or swelling in the arm where the vaccine was given may develop into cellulitis, and other mild side effects
such as headache, dizziness, nausea and/or mild fever.
However, although the drug is proven to help prevent girls develop HPV, in recent months there have been a number reports in the Irish media
regarding concerns raised by parents about the safety of the drugs used, particularly the drug GardasilⓇ which some parents believe are causing serious side effects. Concerned parents
have approached media outlets claiming that there have been serious damaging side effects to their daughters after the HPV vaccination was given to them in schools.
Side effects, reported by the Colahan family,
who claim their daughter Abbey has developed serious health problems since receiving the vacine include " blurred vision, chest pain, leg pain and severe headaches as well as the seizures.’ " while the parents of Roisin Heelan
from Cork talk about "chronic headaches which became so acute she could not get out of bed.."
In response to these concerns, a new support group called R.E.G.R.E.T
has been launched in May this year by parents who, according to their website , have "teenage girls who have developed serious health problems after entering secondary school. These parents are certain the the HPV vaccine (Gardasil is the cause of their daughters' otherwise unexplained illness". The group was founded to offer support to families who have experienced serious side effects from the drug and according to their website it is ‘where parents can read first-hand accounts from Irish victims and their families. The site is also a focal point for raising awareness among other parents whose daughters have yet to receive the injection with the school's vaccination program set to resume in September.’ R.E.G.R.E.T. is an acronym for "Reactions and Effects of Gardasil Resulting in Extreme Trauma".
According to the HSE website, "By March 2015, over 187 million doses of Gardasil® have been distributed worldwide either as part of national immunisation programmes or by private doctors. A review by the European Centre for Disease and Control (ECDC) published in February 2015 considered data on the safety profile of Gardasil and concluded that Gardasil is generally safe and well-tolerated. "
In July, the European Medicines Agency launched a review
of the cervical cancer vaccine’s safety, while asserting that the review should not raise questions about whether the vaccine’s benefits in preventing cervical cancer outweigh their risks. The agency also said there should be no change to national HPV vaccination recommendations. View the PRAC report here
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