File photo: A nurse administers a flu vaccine shot in Washington. AP
The South African Medical Association (SAMA), through its affiliate body the South African Paediatric Association (SAPA), is the latest organisation to throw its weight behind the safety and efficacy of the human papiloma virus (HPV) vaccine.

This after several recent media reports linked the use of the vaccine to neurological diseases in two children.
SAPA said it reviewed the media reports, and concluded they do not suggest the vaccine is likely to have contributed to the two children’s illness.

“However, we have not examined these children, nor do we have access to their medical records, and our impression needs to be interpreted in this context,” Gary Reubenson, of SAPA said recently.

He said SAPA recognised that cancer of the cervix, as well as other HPV associated diseases, are important causes of death and suffering in South Africa.

“We support all reasonable evidence-based efforts to prevent these diseases. Vaccines are one such option. For this reason, SAPA fully endorses the use of the HPV vaccine, and its routine provision to eligible learners,” he added.

According to SAPA, the HPV vaccine has been administered to hundreds of thousands of children and adults globally, and is highly effective and well tolerated. As with any other medical intervention, adverse consequences are possible and important to recognise. The most common side effects of the HPV vaccine are usually mild, such as a sore arm. Like all vaccines, the HPV vaccine is monitored on an ongoing basis to make sure it remains safe and effective.

“To date, there is no reason to be concerned about any particular serious or longstanding untoward effects following administration of the HPV vaccine. Accordingly we continue to support the widespread use of HPV vaccines, and encourage its administration as its benefits substantially outweigh any potential adverse effects,” Reubenson noted.

He said SAPA also encouraged vaccine recipients, and their caregivers, to report any possible adverse consequences following administration of the vaccine to their healthcare workers, so that these can be appropriately reported and investigated.