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|Family Medicine (FM)/General Practice (GP)|
BACKGROUND: Despite demonstrated effectiveness in real-world settings, concerns persist regarding the safety of the quadrivalent human papillomavirus (HPV4) vaccine. We sought to assess the risk of autoimmune disorders following HPV4 vaccination among grade 8 girls eligible for Ontario's school-based HPV vaccination program.
METHODS: We undertook a population-based retrospective cohort study using Ontario's administrative health and vaccination databases from 2007 to 2013. The self-controlled case series method was used to compare the rate of a composite end point of autoimmune disorders diagnosed during days 7-60 post-vaccination ("exposed" follow-up) to that at any other time ("unexposed"). The analysis was repeated to assess the effect of a history of immune-mediated diseases and time since vaccination. We also conducted an exploratory analysis of individual autoimmune disorders. Rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using conditional Poisson regression, adjusted for age, seasonality, concomitant vaccinations and infections.
RESULTS: The study cohort consisted of 290 939 girls aged 12-17 years who were eligible for vaccination between 2007 and 2013. There was no significant risk for developing an autoimmune disorder following HPV4 vaccination (n = 681; rate ratio 1.12, 95% CI 0.85-1.47), and the association was unchanged by a history of immune-mediated disorders and time since vaccination. Exploratory analyses of individual autoimmune disorders found no significant risks, including for Bell palsy (n = 65; rate ratio 1.73, 95% CI 0.77-3.89), optic neuritis (n = 67; rate ratio 1.57, 95% CI 0.74-3.33) and Graves disease (n = 47; rate ratio 1.55, 95% CI 0.92-2.63).
INTERPRETATION: We did not observe an increased risk of autoimmune disorders following HPV4 vaccination among teenaged girls. These findings should reassure parents and health care providers.
The study period lasted from 2007 to 2013, so the last girls were recently included. Can the hindsight concerning an autoimmune reaction not be considered too short?
It's good to have data fairly quickly in this domain. This is an important message to keep at hand.
This is good beginning but more long-term data will be needed to show those opposed to this wonderful vaccine that it is safe and a game-changer in the fight against cervical cancer and genital warts (plus other genital tract cancers).