Unnecessary fears regarding the HPV vaccine are rising in certain parts of the world, as some people believe that the vaccine can lead to life-threatening complications.
In 2013 in Japan, an allegedly faked study from Shinshu University made headlines, causing many to believe that there is a link between the HPV vaccine and brain damage. The false research caused such a huge frenzy that the number of girls getting the vaccination went from 70 percent to almost zero. This crisis led to Japanese physician Riko Muranaka, a lecturer from Kyoto University School of Medicine, receiving an international award for demonstrating the safety of the HPV vaccine and persevering against anti-vaxxers.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is usually given to young girls around the ages of 11 or 12. The vaccination is given to help prevent the virus, which can be spread via sexual activity. It also reduces the risk of cervical cancer and other kinds of cancer that can develop as a result of being infected with HPV.
Despite the fact that the safety of the HPV vaccine has been proven by scientists, Denmark has also seen a drop in the number of girls receiving it. According to the CPH Post Online, only 17 percent of girls born in 2003 were given the vaccination, compared to 73 percent in Sweden and Norway.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, the same problem is occurring. The Irish Times recently reported that between 2014 and 2015, 87 percent of girls received the HPV vaccination, whereas last year, only 50 percent opted for the treatment.
The influence comes partly from anti-vaccine campaigners, who have often been misled by false information. Because of this, the Health Service Executive created a campaign alongside the World Health Organisation to help put a rest to the concerns and to make sure young girls are getting vaccinated. Thanks to this, the proportion of girls in Ireland getting vaccinated has risen by 11 percent this year.
“We know that there are many conflicting and misleading sources of information out there,” Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe, the HSE National Director of Health and Wellbeing, told the Irish Medical Times.
Margaret Stanley, from Cambridge University, told The Guardian that it's common for people to say a new vaccination is unsafe, “but the HPV vaccine seems to raise extraordinary levels of hostility”.
“In addition, some parents feel they might be encouraging promiscuity by allowing their daughters to be vaccinated against a virus that spreads through sexual contact," she added. "Add to this the use of social media and you have quite an explosive mixture.”
Previous research has highlighted just how safe the vaccine is, even in the long term, showing that fears are totally unnecessary. Men in America are now also encouraged to get the jab to help prevent HPV, a treatment which isn’t offered in many other countries as of yet.