HPV Vaccine Not as Painful as Some Think
Survey Counters Anecdotal Reports That HPV Vaccines Are More Painful Than Other Shots
Oct. 23, 2009 -- Researchers say injections of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine apparently hurt less than people may think.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill scientists, reporting in the online journal Vaccine, say anecdotal accounts and news stories have stressed the side effects of the HPV vaccine, including reports of painful injections.
The researchers say health care professionals are concerned that these reports may keep young women and others from getting the vaccine or completing the three-dose series, which is recommended.
The HPV vaccine administered during the study period was Gardasil, which protects young women from strains of the virus that cause a majority of cervical cancers and genital warts. Only about 37% of adolescent girls in the U.S. who are eligible for the shots have initiated the three-dose series.
The researchers conducted surveys in 2008 with parents of girls aged 11-20 living in areas of North Carolina with elevated cervical cancer rates who had received at least one shot of HPV vaccine.
Parents reported that pain at the time of HPV vaccination was less frequent and less severe than tetanus or meningococcal vaccines. Compared to all other vaccines received by their daughters, 69% of parents reported that HPV vaccine caused their daughters the same amount of pain or discomfort at the time of the shot. Seventeen percent reported that they experienced less pain from the HPV vaccine, and 12% reported it caused more pain.
"These findings may be important to increase HPV vaccination coverage," write the researchers, who include Paul L. Reiter, PhD, of the University of North Carolina's Gillings School of Public Health.
"Some stories about HPV vaccine side effects and pain have been downright scary," Reiter says in a news release. "However, most parents in our study reported their daughters experienced the same amount of pain or even less pain from the HPV vaccine compared to these other vaccines."
The team reports it found that parents who reported that daughters who completed the series of shots reported pain from the shots just as often as those who were late for subsequent doses.