HPV vaccination confers no more risk of serious side effects than placebo, say Cochrane reviewers who have condemned scaremongering over the jab.
The largest review to date shows the risk of serious side effects was about 7% in both HPV-vaccinated and control groups among the 73,400 women enrolled in 26 studies.
The review, covering both quadrivalent and bivalent HPV vaccines, says there is now “high-certainty evidence” that HPV vaccines offer young women aged 15 to 26 protection against cervical pre-cancer.
Lead author Dr Marc Arbyn, from the Belgian Cancer Centre, said the findings should be appraised within the context of the multiple global surveillance studies conducted by the WHO vaccine safety committee.
“The committee [has] expressed its concerns about unjustified claims of harm that lack biological and epidemiological evidence and which may affect the confidence of the public,” he said.
Among women who were HPV-negative before any intervention, the incidence of future pre-cancerous lesions was found to be far lower in those who received the vaccine rather than a placebo (2 per 10,000 vs 164 per 10,000).
Associate Professor Nikki Turner, head of the New Zealand Immunisation Advisory Centre, said the review is a testament to the vaccine’s efficacy.
She welcomed the fact that the scienctific community is now talking about the prospect of eradicating cervical cancer.
“We have seen now from countless studies the vaccine is highly effective against the precursors of cervical cancer when used in adolescents or younger woman.
The nine-valent HPV vaccine was not included in the review because it has not been compared against placebo in a randomised controlled trial.