Girls given the quadrivalent human papillomavirus (HPV4) vaccination, commercialized as Gardasil, showed no increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a new Canadian study.
The time since vaccination and the number of vaccine doses given also did not correlate with diagnoses of such disorders, supporting the vaccine’s safety.
These findings were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, in a study titled “Quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccination in girls and the risk of autoimmune disorders: the Ontario grade 8 HPV vaccine cohort study”.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world, with a prevalence of 50 to 75 percent among sexually active people.
The Gardasil vaccine, developed and commercialized by Merck (known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada), was first licensed and recommended for girls and women in 2006 to protect against cancers linked to HPV.
Despite the demonstrated safety and efficacy of Gardasil at protecting against 90 percent of the strains that cause cervical and anal cancer, concerns remain about the vaccine’s possible link to autoimmune disorders.
Researchers conducted a retrospective study to assess the risk of autoimmune diseases like MS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes following Gardasil vaccination among girls eligible for a HPV vaccination program in Ontario, Canada.
“Despite demonstrated effectiveness in real-world settings, concerns continue to persist regarding the safety of the HPV4 vaccine,” Jeffrey Kwong, PhD, a study author and senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) at Public Health Ontario, said in a press release.
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