Vaccinations

HPV vaccine safety

The vaccine used to vaccinate against the human papilloma virus (HPV) is called Gardasil, and it has been used in the national vaccination programme since September 2012. Before that, a vaccine called Cervarix was used.

Like all vaccines, the safety and effectiveness of Gardasil has been rigorously tested in clinical trials.

A vaccine is only released to the public if scientific tests, called clinical trials, show the benefits outweigh the risks.

The data from these trials was reviewed by the European Medicine Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use before a licence was granted for Gardasil's use in the UK.

Monitoring safety of HPV vaccines

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) collects information from doctors, other healthcare professionals and patients regarding suspected adverse reactions (unwanted reactions following administration of a medicine, including vaccines) through the Yellow Card scheme.

These reports, or yellow cards, are recorded and regularly reviewed. If a potential problem is identified, an investigation will be carried out and if necessary appropriate action taken.

There is also a legal requirement for pharmaceutical companies to report serious and suspected adverse events to the MHRA.

To find out more, read Vaccine safety and side-effects.

The safety record of Gardasil

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have carefully monitored the use of the Gardasil vaccine in the USA where it has been widely used for many years. The FDA reported that ‘Gardasil continues to be safe and effective and its benefits outweigh its risk’.

For isolated cases of other medical conditions reported, the available evidence at the moment does not suggest that vaccines caused these conditions.

When risks of the HPV vaccines are weighed against the benefit of protection from cervical cancer and genital warts, for most people the benefit of the vaccine far outweighs the risk.

Find out how to report a vaccine side effect.


Page last reviewed: 24/09/2014

Next review due: 24/09/2017

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The safety checks done on vaccines before and after their introduction

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