There's A Scary Article Going Around About Your Lady Parts. It's FALSE.

MYTH: This shot that we give young girls is killing them. Here are FACTS.

For a while now, there have been a couple of terrifying articles and emails going around about the HPV vaccine.

The gist is that the vaccine is not only ineffective, but has common extreme side effects — and that the lead researcher has spoken out against the vaccine.

Background image via Thinkstock.


Let's be clear: These rumors are not true. But we'll get to that. First, what the heck is HPV?

Human papillomavirus is a virus that's been known to cause warts and is often transmitted by sexual contact. The virus is actually pretty common — about 6 million new infections occur each year in the U.S., and almost all women will have an HPV infection at some point in their life. Most of the time, the infection is no big deal, and the body fights it off naturally. But in some cases, the infection can lead to cervical cancer.

To recap, HPV is often NBD. But it can sometimes lead to cervical cancer. And cervical cancer is a big deal.

Now, back to this email full of rumors. Here's the breakdown:

With the help of Aaron from "Healthcare Triage," let's take a look at these false claims one by one.

MYTH #1: The HPV vaccine is killing people.

Based on extensive studies by the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Institute of Medicine, we can definitely say that the HPV vaccine is safe.

The vaccine was tested before it was FDA-approved, and no serious side effects were found. It underwent another safety review recently, with the same findings. The CDC has even specifically investigated certain deaths that are allegedly linked to the vaccine — no patterns have been found among the deaths, and no links have been found to the vaccination.


MYTH #2: The lead researcher has spoken out against the vaccine.

Dr. Diane Harper, one of the researchers of the HPV vaccine, has indeed said that the manufacturers of the vaccine may be overselling its cancer prevention properties. The main concern here is that no one yet knows how long the vaccine's effects will last. (Are booster shots necessary?) The vaccine hasn't been around long enough for us to know yet. But there are studies monitoring the vaccine's long-term potency. This is not a reason to not get the vaccine.

Dr. Harper has also been quoted as saying that the vaccine may not be absolutely necessary in parts of the world where pap smears are common. Pap smears screen for cervical cancer. They do not prevent cancer. Besides, plenty of women don't get pap smears regularly. And on top of that, new research has linked HPV to rectal and oral cancer, which are not detected in pap smears. Bottom line: Pap smears are great. But the HPV vaccine is still crucial.


Myth #3: The HPV vaccine does nothing to prevent cervical cancer.

Again, false. During the three years before the vaccine was introduced, the prevalence of HPV in girls ages 14-19 was 11.5%. In the three years since the vaccine was introduced, that rate fell to 5.1%. And only one-third of the girls in that age group got the vaccine! That looks pretty darn effective to me.

In fact, not only is the vaccine effective, but it's now recommended that all young people get the vaccine. Why? Because HPV causes more types of cancer than just cervical cancer. And because even if someone doesn't have a cervix, they could transmit an HPV infection to someone who does. So, vaccines all around.


As Aaron from "Healthcare Triage" says, "It's either never ever ever touch ... or get the vaccine."

Check out Aaron's full explanation in the video below.

FACT CHECK TIME! We checked our facts. Now you can check our facts, too.

  • There are 6 million new HPV infections in the U.S. each year.
  • Almost all women have an HPV infection at some point in their lifetime — men, too, actually.
  • Every year, 4,000 women die of cervical cancer in the U.S.
  • Dr. Diane Harper has said that the manufacturer is overselling the HPV vaccine's abilities.
  • HPV can cause cervical cancer as well as rectal and oral cancer.
  • In the three years before the HPV was released, the prevalence of HPV in girls 14-19 was 11.5%. In the three years after the vaccine's release, that rate went down to 5.1%.
  • The CDC has investigated the safety of the vaccine and found no pattern associating the vaccination with death.
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