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Cervical cancer jab investigation

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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I was extremely saddened to hear about the tragic death of a 14 year old school girl in Coventry on Monday, only a few hours after she had been provided with a jab to protect her against cervical cancer.


A number of other girls also suffered minor symptoms following the vaccination and were sent home from school.


The batch of vaccines used has been quarantined by NHS Coventry and it has now been recalled by the manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline. This morning, it has been reported that a preliminary post mortem examination "revealed a serious underlying medical condition which was likely to have caused death". Further tests will be conducted but unfortunately the results are unlikely to be available for some time yet.


These girls were part of a nationwide immunisation programme which was commenced by the NHS in September 2008. The vaccine, known as Cervarix, is given to girls between the ages of 12 and 18 and protects them against the human papilloma virus, a sexually transmitted disease which is responsible for more than 70% of cases of cervical cancer.


Cervical cancer was brought to the forefront of the public’s attention by Jade Goody earlier this year and approximately 1,000 women die from this disease annually. It is therefore obviously highly desirable to have an effective, reliable and safe vaccination against a disease which causes heartbreak in family life all too often.


An estimated 1.4 million doses of Cervarix have so far been administered during this programme and only 4,657 adverse reactions have been reported. Whilst it seems that only a very small proportion experience any problems and today's news of the preliminary post mortem results is reassuring, it is absolutely imperative that a full and thorough investigation is undertaken into this tragedy to make certain that the safety of teenage girls is not being compromised by the Cervarix vaccination and that the benefits do in fact outweigh the risks.   


By clinical negligence solicitor, Claire Stockley