Aim: To study the safety profile of the bivalent human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine following administration of a first dose to 192,119 13-16-year-old girls in the context of a catch-up campaign.
Methods: The safety of the HPV campaign underwent surveillance in three ways: via a spontaneous reporting system, whereby anyone could report a possible undesirable effect; following completion and validation a diagnosis was made and the causal relationship with the vaccination assessed. Secondly, general healthcare service (GGD) physicians reported effects that occurred during the vaccination sessions. Thirdly, we conducted a questionnaire survey of frequent possible side effects, in which we asked about effects that occurred up to 1 week after the vaccine.
Results: 446 reports were received via the spontaneous reporting system (degree of reporting: 23.2:10,000). 16% of reports were mainly local effects; 84% were systemic effects, including 8 severe effects. 157 girls consulted their general practitioner or went to a hospital (degree of reporting: 8:10,000). 59% of the reports were of a side effect; in 41% a concurrent event was coincidental. There were 638 reports during the vaccination sessions (degree of reporting 45:10,000). The largest number were vasovegetative effects, including fainting or near-fainting (n = 569; degree of reporting: 40:10,000). The degree of reporting of tightness of the chest or skin effects was 2:10,000. The assistance of a general practitioner or ambulance was summoned for 10 girls (degree of reporting: 0.7:10,000). The questionnaire study (response 68.7%; n = 3646) showed that 92.1% of the girls had local effects. In 1.6% these symptoms were severe. Systemic effects occurred in 91.7%; 0.7% had fever (>or= 39.5 degrees C). 1.5% of girls called for medical assistance.
Conclusion: During intensive surveillance of safety of the HPV campaign, no unexpected or serious side effects with a causal relationship with the vaccination occurred following administration of 192,119 doses. In accordance with data from foreign studies, side effects may be common, but are in general mild and short-lived.