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HPV Vaccine No More Painful Than Other Shots

Reports that injection sting is excessive disputed in U.S. study

FRIDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- There have been reports that injections of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine are especially painful, but a new study finds that they don't hurt more than any other shots.

Public health officials worried that reports of excess pain might prevent young women from getting the vaccine, which protects against a virus that can cause cervical cancer, some other kinds of cancer and genital warts. There was also concern that some women might not get all three required doses.

Overall, only a little more than one-third of all teen girls in the United States who are eligible for the vaccine have gotten one or more doses, according to a report.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina discovered that most parents of teen girls who got the HPV vaccine said their daughters didn't experience unusual pain compared to two other kinds of injections -- tetanus boosters and meningococcal vaccinations.

The study was released online in September in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Vaccine.

"Some stories about HPV vaccine side effects and pain have been downright scary. 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," study co-author Paul L. Reiter, a postdoctoral fellow, said in a university news release.

The authors also discovered that women aren't avoiding the vaccine because of fear of pain. Teens who reported experiencing pain were no less likely to finish the three-dose regimen than those who didn't.

Study co-author Noel T. Brewer, an assistant professor of health behavior and health education, said that the findings could combat the myth that the vaccine hurts more than others.

"It's important for parents and health-care providers to be aware of these findings. Doctors and parents can now make better-informed decisions about giving adolescent girls the HPV vaccine," he said. "Getting the HPV vaccine hurts less than you think."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute funded the research.

More information

Learn more about the HPV vaccine from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, news release, Oct. 21, 2009

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