Dear Dr. Ombeva,
I am worried because of some information I read the other day: Cervical cancer vaccine causes nerve disorders and reactions. It claimed that in Japan, there are court cases, because the vaccine caused nerve and disability and walking problems and even paralysis. My daughter has received the first dose, and is due for the second dose soon and I am scared of taking her for it. I am even regretting taking her for the first dose. Rebecca
Cervical cancer is caused by a virus, called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). It contributes to about 40 per cent of cancer deaths. Of all the cancers in women, it is the largest killer. If we prevent HPV infection, we stand a greater chance of preventing it.
This is a sexually transmitted
virus. It has many strains, but only particular ones cause cervical cancer. Vaccination is an effective strategy in preventing it. Two vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix exist. They are extremely safe and effective as shown in numerous studies, and 128 countries have incorporated the vaccine in their immunization programmes.
The reports about Japan are unfounded, and no relationship has been established between paralysis and other neurological disorders and the cervical cancer vaccine. The idea is to give this vaccine before anyone is exposed to the virus, meaning before sexual debut because it’s a sexually transmitted virus.
Studies have shown that the vaccine could to a lesser degree be beneficial even to older women, and as effective as 45 per cent in women approaching 65 years of age.
Every woman who is sexually active needs a pap smear every three years, while those who are living with HIV need the pap smear every year. So, don’t worry, the vaccine is safe, take your daughter for the second dose as scheduled.