HPV vaccines are used in more than 80 countries – the vaccines have been given to more than 80 million girls and women worldwide.
In some countries, uptake of HPV vaccines is greater than 90%. However, some have faced challenges in reaching or maintaining this level of coverage. In Japan in 2013, false rumours spread on social media about the safety of HPV vaccines. Some parents opted out of HPV vaccination on behalf of their daughters. Denmark and Ireland have faced the same problem.
What’s the worry?
Specifically, some have claimed that the vaccine is linked to:
- complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
- postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)
Why the confusion? CRPS and POTS are real but very rare conditions that can affect teenagers. HPV vaccines are given to teenagers, leading some to wonder whether there is a connection.
The concerns are understandable but unfounded. There is no causal link between HPV vaccines and the symptoms of CRPS and POTS.
Independent experts at the European Medicines Agency looked at the rates of these conditions in teenagers who had had the vaccine. They compared this to teenagers who had not had the vaccine. The rates of POTS and CRPS were the same in both groups.
The HPV vaccine not only protects against cervical cancer and genital warts, it also protects against some head and neck cancers.