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Human Papillomavirus (Cervical Cancer) Vaccination Programme

Volume 497: debated on Monday 12 October 2009

Hon. Members will be aware of the tragic death of a 14 year old girl in Coventry on 28 September soon after she had received the Cervarix vaccine. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.

At the inquest into the girl’s death, the pathologist confirmed that she died from a large malignant tumour of unknown origin in the heart and lungs. There is no indication that the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was a contributing factor to the death.

Before the results of the post-mortem were confirmed, the batch of vaccine in question was quarantined as a purely precautionary measure. Subsequently the manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, voluntarily initiated a recall of the stock.

Over 1 million doses of the HPV vaccine gave been given in the United Kingdom since the programme began, and the vaccine has an excellent safety profile. It is estimated that the immunisation programme will save the lives of 400 women each year.

Information on the clinical trials of the vaccine is publicly available on the website of the European Medicines Agency, the body that advises on the licensing of the vaccine: cervarix/H-721-en6.pdf

We have been transparent about the vaccine’s safety since the programme started in the UK. Information on the MHRA’s continuous review of safety and reports of suspected side effects are published each week on the MHRA website. The Commission on Human Medicines has recently reviewed the first year safety experience and advised that no serious new safety issues have been identified despite significant usage of the vaccine in the UK. A summary of this review has now been published on the MHRA website at: /Safetyguidance/DrugSafetyUpdate/CON059804

The HPV vaccine protects against cervical cancer, and we are committed to offering girls and young women protection against it. The vaccine has an excellent safety profile. Parents should continue to have confidence in this vaccine and ensure their daughters are protected against developing cervical cancer in the future.