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Who is at Highest Risk for Complications from HPV Vaccine?

vaccine complications

The Institute of Medicine has acknowledged that there is individual susceptibility to vaccine reactions for genetic, biological and environmental reasons but that vaccine providers cannot accurately predict prior to a vaccine’s administration who will suffer complications, injury or death from vaccination.1 However, a person who has previously had a serious reaction to a vaccination or is acutely or chronically ill should become informed about all potential risks associated with vaccination and discuss any concerns with a trusted health care professional before receiving HPV vaccine or any other vaccine.

A 2013 study examining an association between systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or SLE-like disease and HPV vaccination noted that individuals with a personal or family history of auto-immunity or those who had previously reacted to HPV vaccination had a higher risk of developing an auto-immune disorder post vaccination.2 A 2017 case report published in Clinical Pediatrics reported a case of neurocardiogenic syncope and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome in a previously healthy 11-year-old female with a family history of autoimmune disease post Gardasil vaccination.3

Currently, a history of a severe allergy to a vaccine component, including yeast, history of a life threatening allergic reaction to a previous HPV shot, and pregnancy are the only CDC approved official contraindications (medical reasons for not getting vaccinated) to receiving HPV vaccines.4 However, the CDC also states that HPV vaccination should be postponed if a person is “moderately or severely ill.”5

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about HPV and the HPV vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents , which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

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1 Institute of Medicine Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines. Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality: Evaluating Biological Mechanisms of Adverse Events (p. 57-102), Increased Susceptibility (p. 82). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press 2012.

2 Gatto M, Agmon-Levin N. et al.  Human papillomavirus vaccine and systemic lupus erythematosus. Clin Rheumatol. (2013) 32: 1301.

3 Schofield JR, Hendrickson JE. Autoimmunity, Autonomic Neuropathy, and the HPV Vaccination: A Vulnerable Subpopulation. Clin. Pediatr. 2018 Vol 57(5) 603-606

4 CDC. HPV - Vaccine Information Sheet. Dec. 2, 2016.

5 Ibid.

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