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HSE response to TV3 documentary: HPV vaccine has 'good safety record'

Concerns have been raised over the HPV vaccine administered to schoolgirls across the country.

Abbey Colohan from Meath, who believes the vaccine is to blame for her illness.
Abbey Colohan from Meath, who believes the vaccine is to blame for her illness.
Image: TV3

THE HSE HAS defended its use of the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer after the vaccination was linked to severe side effects in a TV3 documentary aired last night.

Four teenagers featured in the documentary claim that the vaccine, which is administered to schoolgirls through a nationwide programme called Gardasil, has caused them long-term health difficulties.

One of the teenagers, 14-year-old Abbey Colohan from Kells, Co Meath, said she experienced seizure-like jerking, blurred vision, headache and nausea when she received the vaccine in school last year.

Two days after the vaccine, she had another seizure and was taken by ambulance to Drogheda Hospital, where she stayed for six days before being sent home without a diagnosis.

Six months later, Abbey’s family say she is still waiting to see a neurologist.

‘Rare’ reactions

However, the HSE said in a statement today that severe allergic reactions to the vaccine are “extremely rare” and that the most common side effects are usually experienced only around the time of administration.

“The most frequently reported side effects are local redness and/or swelling at the point of injection, and fever. These are typical and usually mild and temporary reactions to any kind of vaccination,” a spokesperson said.

The statement added: “All international regulatory authorities, including those in the USA, Australia and the UK and the World Health Organisation, investigate vaccine side effects, and they and the Irish regulators have stated that Gardasil has a good safety record.”

The statement went on to say that adverse reactions should be reported to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), which licences all vaccinations administered as part of the HSE’s immunisation programme.

It added that use of the vaccine has been endorsed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), an independent committee that makes recommendations on vaccination policy in Ireland.

Since May 2010, the HPV vaccine has been administered to over 170,000 schoolgirls in an effort to prevent cervical cancer, which kills an estimated 100 women a year in Ireland and more than a quarter of a million women worldwide every year.

The vaccination protects against two high-risk types of HPV that cause 73% of all cervical cancers.

Read: Teenage girl reportedly suffered fit in school after getting HPV vaccine

Read: BCG scars could become a thing of the past for most people

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Catherine Healy

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