Fewer young women are opting to get the HPV vaccine that doctors say is an important and effective protection against cervical cancer.
Reports of the vaccine’s side-effects – chronic headaches, fatigue and fainting – are suspected as the main culprit behind only 81 percent of girls born in 2001 choosing to receive the vaccine. Over 90 percent of girls born in 2000 opted for the treatment.
“We have seen a decline recently,” Kari Mølbak, the head of infection epidemiology at Statens Serum Institut, told Radio24syv.
Vaccine stops other diseases
The health department received over 1,200 reports of side-effects in the third quarter of 2014.
Mølbak hopes that some of the 14-year-olds who have yet to be vaccinated may still choose to get the vaccine.
“Coverage in general is pretty good, but girls opting out in the long-term will mean increased incidences of not only cervical cancer but also genital warts and other diseases caused by the virus,” Mølbak said.
Nick Haekkerup, the health minister, said that protection against cervical cancer “far outweighed” the risk of side-effects.
Exercise could be a problem
Doctors at Frederiksberg Hospital have investigated 90 of the sick girls who may have been affected by the side-effects.
Head doctor Jesper Mehlsen said there could be a link between girls who exercise at a very high level and those experiencing side-effects.
“We would like to have an official advisory for the girls to get their vaccines when they are on a break from training,” said Mehlsen.
Haekkerup, meanwhile, said he would take Mehlsen’s findings into consideration, but said the vaccine situation was a “tremendously complex issue” and that more studies are needed.