|Merck attributes the sting of Gardasil partly to the virus-like particles in the shot. (JB Reed/ Bloomberg News/file)|
ATLANTA - The groundbreaking cervical cancer vaccine for girls is gaining a reputation as the most painful of childhood shots, health experts say.
Health officials have called the Gardasil vaccine an important protection against a cancer-causing sexually transmitted virus. Recently, they've also noted reports of pain and fainting from the shot.
During the vaccine's first year of use, reports of girls fainting from vaccinations climbed, but it's not clear whether the pain of the cervical cancer vaccine was the reason for the reaction.
"This vaccine stings a lot," said Patsy Stinchfield, an infectious disease expert at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, speaking at a recent meeting of vaccination experts in Atlanta.
It sure does, said 18-year-old Lauren Fant. "It burns," said the college freshman from Marrietta, Ga.
The pain is short-lived, girls say. But some teens say it's uncomfortable driving with or sleeping on the injected arm for up to a day after getting the shot.
Meanwhile, US health officials have noticed a rise in reports of vaccine-associated fainting in girls.
But it's not clear that Gardasil's sting is related to the fainting increase, said Dr. Barbara Slade, an immunization safety specialist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Teens tend to faint from needles, so a three-dose vaccine for adolescents would be expected to prompt some added fainting, she said.