No increased risk of chronic fatigue syndrome after HPV vaccination | 24 June 2017

Source: Norwegian Institute of Public Health, 23 June 2017.

Girls receiving one or more doses of HPV vaccine have no greater risk of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) than unvaccinated girls. This is shown in a new major study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

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The study is part of the national surveillance of the HPV vaccination programme and includes data from more than 175,000 girls in the first six birth cohorts who were offered the vaccine in 7th grade. 145,000 of these received one or more doses of HPV vaccine.

“This is a major study where we have investigated the association between HPV vaccination and chronic fatigue syndrome. The incidence of this disease has increased in Norway, but we found no association with HPV vaccination,” says first author of the study, Berit Feiring from the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Modelling at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Offered to girls in 7th grade since 2009

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that can cause infection in the cervix. Persistent HPV infection is a necessary cause of cervical cancer.

The HPV vaccine Gardasil protects against 4 different HPV genotypes (6, 11, 16 and 18) and has been offered to girls in 7th grade since 2009.

Information about CFS/ME and other diagnoses from the Norwegian Patient Registry (NPR) was linked with information about HPV vaccination from the Norwegian Immunisation Registry (SYSVAK).

The study has adjusted for factors that may affect the association between vaccination and CFS / ME, such as region of residence, country background, parental education and previous hospital visits among the girls.

Results of the study

  • Girls who have received one or more doses of HPV vaccine have no greater risk of CFS/ME than girls who have not received HPV vaccine.
  • The study also shows that the number of CFS/ME cases in Norway has increased in the period 2009-2014. The data for this part of the study includes all Norwegian children and adolescents, aged 10-17 years, during the study period, in total more than 800,000 persons. About two thirds (67 per cent) of those diagnosed are girls. However, the increase is similar in both sexes, although girls are more frequently diagnosed than boys. The reason for the increase is unknown.

The study “HPV vaccination and risk of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: A nationwide register-based study from Norway” is published in Vaccine.


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Medical Xpress:
No increased risk of chronic fatigue syndrome after HPV vaccination


General information on vaccines and ME/CFS from Dr Charles Shepherd:

Anecdotal evidence indicates that a number of vaccinations are occasionally capable of either triggering ME/CFS, or causing an exacerbation of pre-existing symptoms, and the 2002 UK CMO Working Group report acknowledged (in section 3.3.2) that vaccinations can occasionally act as a trigger factor in the development of ME/CFS.

The link is biologically plausible but there hasn’t been any really robust research carried out to investigate the role of vaccinations as immune system stressors in the causation of ME/CFS. Two fairly recent published reports of interest relate to an MHRA review of HPV vaccine (Cervarix) and ME/CFS, and two case reports re Swine Flu vaccine and ME/CFS.

I have a longstanding interest in the role of vaccinations in ME/CFS and my patient evidence on the subject, which is now quite substantial and includes a number of health workers who were vaccinated almost as a condition of employment, indicates that hepatitis B vaccine appears to play an unusual and significant role here.

This is supported by the results of the MEA website poll on the role of vaccinations as trigger factors for ME/CFS (see below). The MEA has an information leaflet which summarises the research evidence relating to vaccinations and ME/CFS. Similar information is summarised and referenced on page 41 of the ME Association ‘An exploration of the key clinical issues‘ booklet.


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