By Liz Dunphy
A support group for girls who believe they may have been injured by the cervical cancer HPV vaccine has launched a national appeal for parents to sign up to a new register via http://regret.ie.
The support group, Regret.ie have identified over 50 Irish school children and young women who received the vaccine and are now experiencing serious life changing health problems, although there is no causal link at present between the vaccine and many of these girls symptoms.
Gardasil, the vaccine manufactured by Sanofi-Pasteur, is offered to girls from the age of 12 to protect them against developing certain strains of cervical cancer.
The vaccine is routinely administered in schools as part of a national cancer vaccination programme.
861 cases of possible adverse reactions have now been reported to the Irish health authorities, who say that they are closely monitoring the vaccine.
Denmark recently called on the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to investigate possible adverse reactions to the vaccine after a number of Danish girls developed similar, chronic symptoms after being given the vaccine.
Cervical cancer can be lethal. It kills 80 to 100 women each year in Ireland.
However, fatalities have fallen in countries where female populations are routinely screened for pre-cancerous cell changes in the cervix. As cervical cancer develops slowly, health policy that involves regular screening, and treatment where necessary, has a high success rate.
Kiva Murphy, who believes that her daughter may have been injured by the vaccine is calling on parents to sign up to the register.
“We firmly believe there is a link between the anti-cervical cancer vaccination Gardasil and the experience of our daughters who are now trying to cope with life changing illnesses," said Ms Murphy.
“More and more parents are contacting us every week, and we now want to inform the Departments of Health, Education and the HSE about the extent of this previously unidentified problem and get support for our daughters."
“We are asking parents throughout the country to contact us if their daughter has any of the problems associated with this vaccination. Many of these problems manifest themselves weeks, or months after the vaccination. As of today, we know of 52 cases to date, but we believe that once parents make the link there will be dozens more,” said Ms Murphy.
Symptoms that have been reported include persistent headaches, sore throats, joint and/or muscle pains, memory impairment, menstrual problems, seizures, auto immune illnesses, chronic fatigue, depression, and psychiatric illnesses.
The EMA have asserted that their recently launched review of the vaccine should not raise questions about whether the vaccine’s benefits in preventing cervical cancer outweigh their risks.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar has said that the vaccine has been tested and monitored internationally.
“While no medicine (including vaccines) are entirely without risk, the safety profile of Gardasil has been continuously monitored since it was first authorised both nationally and at EU level,” he said.