Dear Dr Mitchell,
My 11-year-old daughter got the HPV vaccine at school, but reported that she had no symptoms at all afterwards. She said the nurse told her that her body had probably rejected the vaccine. She has the second dose in six months. If dose one was indeed not reactive, would she be fully protected after the second dose? How would we know if the vaccine is working?
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine that is being given in schools in Jamaica is Cervarix. In some countries Gardasil 9 is given. The vaccine is given in two doses to young girls and boys six months apart. In older women three doses are given. The second one is given one month after the first one, and the third is given six months from the first dose.
The most common minor side effect is injection site pain or discomfort. The lack of pain or reaction to the vaccine does not mean that the product is not effective, since pain is not present in all individuals. The vaccine has been shown to be effective globally and has shown good response in young girls, boys and older women.
You should ensure that your daughter gets the second dose. She will be definitely protected against the HPV-related diseases such as cervical cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, anal cancer and vulvar cancer when she gets older and becomes sexually active.
If you have not received the vaccine and you are under age 65, you should consult your doctor about receiving three doses of the Cervarix vaccine in order to reduce your risk of cervical cancer.
There is no need to be concerned about the efficacy of the vaccine since this has been well established.
Dr Sharmaine Mitchell is an obstetrician and gynaecologist. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Ave, Kingston 5; or fax to 968-2025. All responses are published. Dr Mitchell cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to medical advice or treatment from your own doctor.