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Preteens More Likely to Report HPV Vaccine Side Effects

TUESDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds that preteen girls are more likely than older teens and adult women to experience side effects after receiving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil.

However, the side effects are not serious and are similar to those associated with other vaccines.

U.S. researchers surveyed about 900 girls and young women, aged 11 to 26, within two weeks after they received the Gardasil vaccine injection in the upper arm. The vaccine protects against HPV infection, which is sexually transmitted and a cause of cervical cancer.

Seventy-eight percent of the patients reported pain when receiving the vaccine; 17 percent reported bruising or discoloration; 14 percent reported swelling at the injection site; 15 percent reported dizziness, and 1 percent of the girls fainted.

Younger patients were more likely to have received other vaccines -- such as tetanus, meningitis, and hepatitis A -- at the same time they received the HPV vaccine, and were also more likely to report side effects, the study found.

For example, pain during the injection was reported by 84 percent of girls aged 11 to 12 versus 74 percent of women aged 18 to 26. Dizziness after receiving the vaccine was reported by 19 percent of girls aged 11 to 12 compared to 8 percent of women ages 18 to 26.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded study was published April 3 in the Journal of Women's Health.

"Gardasil is an important cancer prevention vaccine, but too few girls are getting it," lead author Allison Naleway, a senior investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., said in a Kaiser news release. "Our study found that young girls do have some knowledge about the vaccine, but they need to know more. If these girls and their parents know what to expect, they will likely be less afraid of getting the vaccine."

Dr. Mike Wilmington, a Kaiser Permanente pediatrician in Vancouver, Wash., who was not involved in the study, said the side effects are non-serious and very manageable.

"The main complaint I hear about is pain with the injection, but there are ways to lessen the pain," he said in the news release."Some girls will feel dizzy after this and other vaccines, so I follow CDC guidelines and have them sit or lie down for a few minutes after receiving the vaccine."

The CDC recommends the three-dose Gardasil vaccination for girls aged 11 to 12, for older girls and women (aged 13 to 26) who did not receive the vaccine when they were younger, for boys aged 11 to 12, and for older boys and men (aged 13 to 21) who did not receive the vaccine when they were younger.

Most of the girls and young women surveyed knew that the vaccine can prevent cervical cancer and that three doses are suggested, but many were unaware that Gardasil can also prevent genital warts and abnormal Pap smears, the researchers said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about HPV vaccines.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Kaiser Permanente, news release, April 3, 2012

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