Further research on the Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine Gardasil, has proven that the drug is safe for use in preventing the development of the sexually transmitted infection linked to cervical cancer.
The study was completed with the help of 189,629 female participants, all inside the Kaiser Permanente insurance network in California and between the ages of nine and 26.
All of the women agreed to be monitored as they took at least one of the three shots included in the vaccination series. A total of 44,001 women received all three doses.
Doctors looked for finite evidence to link the drug, manufactured by Merck & Co., to more severe side effects, such as blood clots, seizures, and paralysis. Participants in the study were observed for sixty days after taking the vaccine and reported mild side effects, such as swelling at the site of injection or skin rash within the first two weeks, as most common.
Some of the women did experience “same-day syncope,” or fainting, after receiving the injection. However, researchers said the phenomenon had a known, “benign” side effect of the drug, as women are six times more likely to faint on the day that the injections are administered.
Gardasil has been recommended for girls as young as nine and has been available to doctors as a resource in fighting HPV since it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, HPV is the cause of nearly all cases of cervical cancer and half of all sexually active American will have some form of HPV in their lifetime.
Though there are over 100 different types of strains, but only certain types of HPV can lead to cervical cancer in women. Gardasil protects against four types of that cancer and genital warts.
As the infection can take hold in men and women, both sexes are encouraged to complete a HPV vaccination series before becoming sexually active. The only other FDA approved HPV vaccine is Cervarix, which was approved in 2009 and marketed to girls and women between the ages of 10 and 25.