HPV vaccines are recommended as part of the OBGYN standard of care; however, as of April 2015, I cannot recommend HPV vaccines.  Both the safety and effectiveness of the Gardasil® and Cervarix® vaccines remain uncertain. A serious discussion of this topic would be a book in itself, so I will stick to the main issues for the sake of brevity.

The biggest problem with evaluating the effectiveness is that in “fast-tracking” the HPV vaccines for approval, the FDA violated its own requirements and made potentially erroneous assumptions on insufficient data (only three years’ worth). In effect, it was assumed that any diminished cervical dysplasia attributed to the vaccines was a prevention of cervical cancer. However, cervical dysplasia will often clear without any intervention making the assumption invalid.

More recently, Drs. Lucija Tomljenovic and Chris Shaw, researchers from the University of British Columbia, have demonstrated that the vaccines have not prevented cervical cancer whatsoever, nor are they likely to—at least not in developed countries with robust cervical screening programs. Because it can take many years for cervical cancer to develop, it will be decades before we have enough data to determine whether they actually work.

If effectiveness was my only concern, I would probably recommend inoculation with the HPV vaccine in the hope that it might work. The problem is, however, that there have been a disproportionate number of adverse events associated with Gardasil® and Cervarix® vaccines. From 2006 to 2013, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) reported over 26,000 adverse events for HPV vaccines, 92 deaths, 866 cases of permanent disability and over 9,000 injuries requiring emergency hospitalization. VAERS is the United States Health and Human Services vaccine injury reporting agency. Of significant concern is the fact that HPV vaccines account for over 60% of all reported vaccine injuries.

Concerns over safety have led the Japanese Health Ministry to withdraw its recommendation to vaccinate for HPV and other countries are investigating their safety and efficacy as well. Because there is so much money to be made by U.S. pharma companies producing vaccines, it’s challenging to get accurate information. Furthermore, in the U.S., vaccine manufacturers cannot be sued for vaccine injuries, which results in a lack of transparency that benefits manufacturers while putting the public at risk. At this point in time, it appears that HPV vaccines have more risk than benefit.