Engaging men in health

March 2009


Quadrivalent HPV vaccination reactions

More hype than harm

Volume 38, No.3, March 2009 Pages 139-142

Robert J Douglas


The quadrivalent human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil was licensed for use in June 2006. Since its approval more than 26 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed worldwide. There is ongoing debate as to the safety of the vaccine, with suggestions of a link between the vaccine and syncopal events, and the aetiology of more chronic conditions such as Guillain-Barre syndrome.


A case of subcutaneous emphysema secondary to quadrivalent HPV vaccination is described, and reported adverse events to quadrivalent HPV vaccination in both Australia and the United States are examined.


On the basis of published peer reviewed literature, and from data analysis conducted by reputable agencies, the conclusion is drawn that adverse events are mild and self limiting and quadrivalent HPV vaccine is safe when administered according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

A woman, 21 years of age, presented to a hospital emergency department complaining of a ‘funny feeling’ in the skin overlying the left deltoid muscle, approximately 2 hours after receiving a 0.5 mL intramuscular dose of quadrivalent human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine (Gardasil). There were no other symptoms.

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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