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Side effects of HPV vaccination

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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Following clinical trials, the vaccine used in the UK human papilloma virus ( HPV) vaccination programme (Cervarix) was shown to cause side effects in some people.

Immediately after having the injection, you may experience a stinging sensation or slight pain that lasts for a short time. Other side effects may take longer to appear.

Very common side effects

Very common side effects of the HPV vaccine include:

  • pain at the injection site
  • redness or swelling at the injection site
  • headaches
  • muscle pain
  • tiredness

These side effects occur in around 10%-15% of vaccine doses.

Common side effects

Common side effects of the HPV vaccine include:

  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • abdominal (tummy) pain
  • itchy skin
  • a red skin rash
  • hives (urticaria - an itchy, red rash)
  • joint pain
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or over

These side effects occur in less than 10% of vaccine doses.

Uncommon side effects

Uncommon side effects of the HPV vaccine include:

  • upper  respiratory tract infection (infection of the nose, throat or windpipe)
  • dizziness
  • other reactions at the injection site, such as a hard lump, tingling or numbness

These side effects occur in less than 1% of vaccine doses.

Very rare side effects

It is not possible to reliably estimate how frequently other side effects may occur. This is because the information about them is received from people reporting the side effects themselves, rather than in controlled, clinical tests.

In very rare cases, it is possible for someone who has had the HPV vaccine to experience a more severe allergic reaction, known as an  anaphylactic reaction (anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock). Signs of an anaphylactic reaction include:

  • breathing difficulties and wheezing
  • swollen eyes, lips, genitals, hands, feet and other areas (this is called angioedema)
  • itching
  • a strange metallic taste in the mouth
  • sore, red, itchy eyes
  • changes in heart rate
  • loss of consciousness

Severe reactions like this are very rare. From April 2008 to July 2010, there were 41 anaphylactic reactions reported to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA - the medicines safety watchdog). Out of four million doses given from September 2008 to July 2010, that makes such reactions very unlikely. 

If a severe allergic reaction does occur immediately, the healthcare professional who is giving the vaccine will be fully trained in how to deal with it.

If you are with someone and they start to experience the symptoms of anaphylaxis, dial 999 immediately to request an ambulance

.

See the Health A-Z topic about  Anaphylaxis - Treatment for more information.

Medical Review: September 21, 2010

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