ScaryNeighborThe HPV vaccine has jumped into the news again as the UK reports their first death following a vaccination.

The US (and western world in general) has already been struggling with vaccines, and this could make things more difficult in the UK. With all the claims of vaccines linked to autism, Jenny McCarthy's wild-ass claims, and Muslims stopping the distribution of the polio vaccination -- there's a lot of pseudoscience, superstition, and urban legends up against vaccines.

Then there is the religious angle against the HPV vaccine. Because the human papillomavirus is a sexually transmitted disease, the abstinence-only proponents think giving a girl this vaccine gives her the go-ahead to be promiscuous.

It will be interesting to see what kind of media attention resurfaces from this; but I can already see the email or Facebook posts flying around again, claiming how bad this vaccine is, and possibly how bad all vaccines are. So in an attempt to arm you with knowledge before you even get that email or see someone post it on Facebook, here are some facts for you to counter with.

  • As of 01 June 2009, over 25 million doses had been administered in the US. Of those, 14,072 (0.05%) reported side effects; meaning 99.95% were free of side effects.
  • Of those with side effects, 13,087 (93%) were non-serious (like fainting, pain and swelling at the injection site, headache, nausea, and fever); all common side effects of any injection.
  • Of those with side effects, 985 (7%) were serious, and of them 43 deaths were reported. This means of the 25 million vaccinated, 0.00172% died after receiving the vaccination (not necessarily because of the vaccination).
  • Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and another 6.2 million people become newly infected each year.
  • At least 50% of sexually active men and women acquire genital HPV infection at some point in their lives.
  • The American Cancer Society estimates 11,070 women diagnosed with cervical cancer in the U.S. in 2008.
  • HPV-related cancers (estimates from 2008):
    • 3,460 women diagnosed with vulvar cancer
    • 2,210 women diagnosed with vaginal and other female genital cancers
    • 1,250 men diagnosed with penile and other male genital cancers
    • 3,050 women and 2,020 men diagnosed with anal cancer
  • According to a 2002 study, approximately 4500 deaths per year in the US, and over 200,000 deaths world wide are results of or linked to a form of cervical cancer.

In the US the CDC and the FDA continue to recommend the Gardasil vaccination, because it does prevent 4 types of HPV; and because the risk of adverse side effects is very low.

"As of June 1, 2009, there have been 43 U.S. reports of death among females who have received the vaccine. Twenty six of these reports have been confirmed, 9 are still under investigation, and 8 remain unconfirmed due to no identifiable patient information in the report such as a name and contact information to confirm the report. Confirmed reports are those that scientists have followed up on and have verified the claim. In the 26 reports confirmed, there was no unusual pattern or clustering to the deaths that would suggest that they were caused by the vaccine."

Besides the links above, I also pulled information from here, here, and here.

What do you think? Any thoughts? Personal stories? Rants?

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