MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Allison L. Naleway, PhD
Associate Director, Science Programs
Center for Health Research
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Reports of premature menopause after human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination have received a lot of media attention, including on social media, but these reports were based on a small number of isolated cases. Large studies have demonstrated the safety of HPV vaccination, but parental safety concerns—including potential impact on future fertility—are often cited as one reason for lower HPV coverage.
Rates of HPV vaccination have lagged behind coverage rates for other recommended adolescent vaccinations, such as tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis and meningococcal conjugate. (Based on national coverage estimates from 2016, 65% of 13–17 year-old females received at least one HPV vaccination and only 49.5% were up to date with the series, compared to about 88% of adolescents who received Tdap.)
We conducted a study of nearly 200,000 young women to determine whether there was any elevated risk of primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) after HPV or other recommended vaccinations.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Our study of nearly 200,000 patients found that adolescents who receive recommended vaccinations, including for HPV, have no increased risk of POI, also known as premature menopause.
In a population of 58,871 young women who received the HPV vaccine during the study period, we found only one case of an individual who possibly had symptoms of primary ovarian sufficiency after vaccination.
If POI is triggered by the HPV vaccine or another recommended adolescent vaccine, we would have expected to see higher incidence in the younger women who were most likely to be vaccinated. But we found no elevated risk for these individuals.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Vaccination of all kinds tends to be a controversial subject in the U.S. We believe that scientific evidence is essential to disproving myths and keeping the public well-informed. In this case, a small number of isolated reports had suggested that the HPV vaccine triggered POI. Readers should be reassured that our large study of nearly 200,000 young women found no evidence to suggest that this concern is supported by reality.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Health care providers need to be prepared to have conversations about vaccine safety with their patients, especially when there is information circulating in the popular media that may not be accurate. Our large, population-based study strengthens the case for HPV vaccination and will help clinicians have these conversations.
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