HPV vaccine side effects

The most common side effects of the HPV vaccine include swelling, redness and pain at the site of the injection, and headaches - although these are generally tolerable and short lived.

Very common side effects of the HPV vaccine

More than one in 10 girls who have the Gardasil HPV vaccine experience:

  • injection site problems such as redness, bruising, itching, swelling, pain or cellulitis
  • headaches

Common side effects

More than one in 100 girls who have the Gardasil HPV vaccine experience:

  • fever
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • painful arms, hands, legs or feet

Rare side effects

Around one in 10,000 girls who have the Gardasil HPV vaccine experience

  • an itchy red rash (urticaria, or 'hives')

Very rare side effects

Fewer than one in 10,000 girls who have the Gardasil HPV vaccine experience:

  • restriction of the airways and difficult breathing (bronchospasm)

Side effects of unknown frequency

It is not possible to reliably estimate how frequently other side effects occur. This is because information is received from people reporting side effects themselves, rather than controlled, clinical tests.

The frequency of these side-effects is unknown:

  • blood problems, leading to unexplained bruising or bleeding
  • chills
  • fainting or brief loss of consciousness
  • feeling dizzy
  • general feeling of being unwell
  • Guillain Barré syndrome
  • joint pain
  • lymphadenopathy
  • muscle pain or tenderness
  • seizures (fits)
  • tiredness
  • vomiting
  • weakness

If you feel unwell or have concerns about a side effect after having the HPV vaccine, seek medical advice. If you feel very ill, get medical help straight away. Contact your prescriber, pharmacist or nurse.

Allergic reactions

In rare cases, it is possible for someone who has had the HPV vaccine to experience a more severe allergic reaction, known as an anaphylactic reaction. Signs of an anaphylactic reaction include:

  • breathing difficulties and wheezing
  • swollen eyes, lips, genitals, hands, feet and other areas (this is called angioedema)
  • itching
  • a strange metallic taste in the mouth
  • sore, red, itchy eyes
  • changes in heart rate
  • loss of consciousness

Be reassured that severe reactions like this are extremely rare, in the order of around one in a million.

If your daughter has a severe allergic reaction, the healthcare professional giving the vaccine will be fully trained in how to deal with it. Individuals recover completely with treatment,
usually within a few hours.

If you are with someone and they start to experience the symptoms of anaphylaxis, dial 999 immediately to request an ambulance.

Chronic fatigue and the HPV vaccine

There have been reports in the press alleging that girls have developed chronic fatigue syndrome after HPV vaccination.

The cause of CFS (otherwise known as ME, or myalgic encephalomyelitis) is not known, but it does occur naturally in teenagers, and is more common in girls than boys.

There are no more cases of CFS than would be expected in teenage girls and there is no evidence to link CFS to the HPV vaccine.

The WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) regularly review the emerging international evidence on the safety of HPV vaccination and issued a statement in March 2014 concluding there is no proven link between the HPV vaccination and autoimmune disease, of which many think CFS/ME is an example.

How to spot and report side effects

The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any medicine you are taking including vaccines. It is run by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

Last Updated: 17/02/2022 16:04:56
The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website