Healthy living
posted by Cancer Nurse
23 September 2022

HPV Vaccine

HPV (human papilloma virus) is a very common virus that most people will have at some point in their lives.  There is over 100 strains of this virus and some strains increase your cancer risk. HPV causes nearly 5%of cancers worldwide. The estimated annual number of cancers caused by HPV in Ireland is 420.   Further information about the virus can be found on our website.

The HPV schools vaccine programme will shortly commence for  2022/2023 and will be offered free to both boys and girls in their first year of secondary school.  The HPV vaccine (Gardasil 9) protects against the HPV virus, which can cause cancer and genital warts in both women and men. The HSE is finalising a plan for a catch up programme for eligible boys and girls who missed their vaccines due to Covid-19 and a catch up programme for older females.

On the support line, we often get questions from the public about the vaccine and the programme, some frequently asked questions are:

Is the Vaccine safe?

The HPV vaccine is safe. The safety of the HPV vaccine has been studied for over 15 years. Over 1 million people have been studied during clinical trials since the vaccine was licensed in 2006.   Information about vaccine safety can be found here . 

There is no scientific evidence in Ireland or in any other country that the HPV vaccine causes any long-term medical condition.

There are stories on social media claiming that the HPV vaccine causes an increase in cases of:

  • postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) – an increase in heart rate that can make you feel faint and dizzy
  • complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) – a form of chronic pain that usually affects an arm or a leg

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) researched these claims in 2015. They found no evidence that the HPV vaccine leads to an increase in these conditions, further information can be found here.

Vaccines are strictly monitored and reviewed regularly by international bodies including the:

Are there any side effects from the vaccine?

  • Most people have no problems after the vaccine. The HPV vaccine has many of the same, mild side effects as other vaccines. 
  • Soreness, swelling and redness in their arm where the injection was given. This is nothing to worry about as this usually passes after a day or two.
  • Headache, or feel sick in their tummy or have a slight temperature. If this happens, paracetamol or ibuprofen will help.
  • Occasionally, some people may feel unwell and faint after getting their injection. To prevent this, when someone gets the vaccine they are asked to sit down and rest for 15 minutes after the vaccination.
  • All international bodies have continually reported that the vaccines used in Ireland have no long-term side effects.

My child/I decided not to proceed with the HPV schools programme in their first year of secondary school can they/I opt in now?

Anyone not in 1st year of secondary school or age equivalent in special schools or home schooled who wish to get the HPV vaccine, must go to their GP, some pharmacies or  their sexual health clinic and pay for the vaccine and its administration privately.  The vaccine costs approximately 200 euro per dose. If you have private health insurance we recommend to check if it is covered on your policy.

If you miss a dose due to absence, contact your local school vaccination team  to arrange an appointment.

Some useful websites that are a good resource for information are listed below.  Please contact our support line on 1800 200 700 or by emailing supportline@irishcancer.ie if you would like any information or advice from a cancer nurse.

https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/immunisation/pubinfo/schoolprog/hpv/hpv-human-papillomavirus/

https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/immunisation/pubinfo/schoolprog/hpv/hpv-vaccination-programme/

https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/immunisation/pubinfo/schoolprog/hpv/about/

 

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