Role of cervical cancer vaccine in development of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – parliamentary debate

June 22, 2009

A cervical cancer vaccine administered to school-age children may have had a role in a teenager becoming ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MPs were told in a recent adjournment debate in the House of Commons.

Crispin Blunt, MP for Reigate, told MPs in May 13 how a young constituent of his became ill with CFS shortly after her first injection with the Cervarix vaccine.

"Over the full course of the inections, she has gone from being a healthy, sports-loving teenager who was a high achiever at school and a tournament-level tennis player, to being crippled by chronic fatigue syndrome, unable to attend school regularly and in need of help with basic tasks such as walking and eating because of the exhaustion and the muscular and joint pain from which she is now suffering".

 Mr Blunt said the case of Rebecca Ramagge was not an isolated one as he had read similar stories of severe reactions to Cervarix resulting in partial paralysis, seizures and chronic fatigue in the national press. He said that a solicitor specialising in representing vaccine victims was representing six girls who are suing the manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, under the Consumer Protection Act.

Yet the Minister told him only the day before, in a parliamentary answer, that while one million doses of Cervarix had been given in the UK there was no evidence to suggest that Cervarix caused an serious or long-term side-effects.

In response to the debate, health minister Dawn Primarolo said there was good reason to think that the reported symptoms were associated with an underlying condition or illness that the person was suffering from at the time of the vaccination. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency was fully aware of the reported cases, several of which were reported through the Yellow Card scheme, and was investigating them.

The Minister added: "As we vaccinated such a large cohort of young people, it was inevitable that a few cases would come forward where other conditions were reported as suspected side-effects even if the vaccine played no part.

"Indeed, the MHRA's statistical analysis of paralytic disorders and chronic fatigue syndrome shows that the reported frequency of such cases is no more than – or should I say the same as – would have been expected among a similar cohort of unvaccinated teenagers. In addition, the Government's independent advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines, looked into the reports not just in the UK, but across the world and concluded that there are no new safety issues associated with the vaccine."

The full debate can be read in Hansard here.

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