A Clean Vaccine

HPV vaccine not tied to higher multiple sclerosis risk or other central nervous system diseases

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) It's a clean vaccine — the HPV shot doesn't appear to raise patients' risk of nervous system diseases.

A new study found that, despite past reports that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine may lead to multiple sclerosis (MS), the vaccine did not lead to MS or other nervous system diseases.

"Prior anecdotes described rare coincidence of multiple sclerosis or demyelinating disease in a few HPV vaccinated persons," said Steven Davis, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor Medical Center at Irving. "This large study found that, in fact, multiple sclerosis and demyelinating disease were more common in the group of individuals who were not vaccinated. It is important to perform large studies like this one for vaccines that will be given to millions of individuals to reassure families about the safety of these vaccines."

The authors of this study said that their findings supported the safety and use of the vaccine.

"Our study adds to the body of data that support a favorable overall safety profile of the [HPV] vaccine and expands on this knowledge by providing comprehensive analyses of multiple sclerosis and other [similar] diseases," wrote the authors of this study, led by Nikolai Madrid Scheller, MB, of the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark.

HPV is a virus that is spread through sexual contact and can cause cervical cancer in women. The vaccine, which comes in three doses, prevents common strains of HPV.

MS is a chronic nervous system disease marked by numbness, impaired speech, blurred vision, weakness and extreme fatigue.

For this study, Dr. Scheller and team used data from almost 4 million Danish and Swedish girls and women — 789,082 of whom received the HPV vaccine. In total, almost 2 million doses were administered.

These researchers looked at rates of MS and similar diseases during the two years after the vaccination period.

During the two-year risk period, Dr. Scheller and colleagues identified 73 cases of MS and 90 cases of similar nervous system diseases. They determined that these cases did not represent a significant increase in MS or similar diseases in people who received the HPV vaccine.

Dr. Scheller and team said that the HPV vaccine was a safe and effective way to prevent HPV. Patients should speak to their doctors before getting any vaccine.

This study was published Jan. 6 in JAMA.

The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Danish Medical Research Council funded this research. Some of the study authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline and Merck.

Review Date: 
December 31, 2014
Last Updated:
January 9, 2015