No, Really — the HPV Vaccine is Mostly Safe!

Illustration for article titled No, Really — the HPV Vaccine is Mostly Safe!

Gardasil is mostly, probably, almost definitely safe, according to a new study that included almost 200,000 girls who'd received at least one dose of the quadrivalent HPV vaccine which is marketed by Merck & Co. and protects against four strains of HPV. Researchers did, however, find evidence of two unpleasant side effects — increased instances of fainting and skin infections, these side effects were mostly expected, and fainting has been linked to receiving injections in general.

According to the study, fainting was six times more likely to occur on the day of vaccination, as opposed to a period of many moons later: there were 24 cases per 1,000 of fainting on the day of vaccination, and an average of 4 per 1,000 during a period of several months later. Incidents of skin infections, meanwhile, were twice as likely to occur about two weeks after vaccination, as opposed to some random time further down the line when mystery splotches on the skin would be more likely to trigger hypochondriac reactions ranging from, "Fuck, when did I roll around in poison oak?" to "I am for sure turning into a zombie."

Since these side effects have been more or less expected, the study didn't raise any concerns about the vaccine's overall safety (Gardasil was approved in 2006 for use in female humans between the ages of 9 and 26). Researchers made sure to rule out any pre-existing baggage patients might have lugged into their big HPV-vaccination-then-maybe-comforting-trip-for-McDonald's-milkshakes day, and, as a bonus, figured out that, contrary to what previous studies have suggested, there is no increased risk for blood clots associated with the vaccine.

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HPV Vaccine Safe, But May Raise Risk of Fainting & Infections [LiveScience]

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DISCUSSION

ok y'all are pissing me off. i'm 33, and practically every woman i know who's ever been with more than a few people, including my three younger sisters, has had HPV at least once, including myself. cervical cancer is extremely rare, and most strains of HPV— even the high risk strains, of which i've had one— eventually leave the body. i'm not saying to not get the vaccine, or your annual pap smear, or to not get an annual or even twice yearly colposcopy if you do have an HPV strain. but all this hysteria around cervical cancer— considering the buku bucks insurance companies and doctors make off scaring women into having colpos and leep procedures— is way unwarranted. it's also classist: poor women without insurance don't get colpos. so if you're privileged enough to afford all this treatment, by all means keep an eye on things; but really, get a grip.