The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Questions arise over HPV vaccine

When Elizabeth Entenman received her first dose of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil, she was never informed of its possible side effects.

“I started the vaccine series when it was relatively new,” said Entenman, a junior at Southern Methodist University. “Had I known about the side effects then, I probably would have gotten it anyway. Every vaccination has the potential to harm you, but they still recommend it anyway because the benefits outweigh the potential negatives.”

Since it’s release in 2006, Gardasil has generated controversy across the country for causing seizures, migraines and extreme body soreness. According to the Dallas Morning News, nearly 5,000 cases have been reported citing debilitating headaches, dizzy spells and arthritis-like stiffness.

But officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have failed to link any of these side effects directly to the vaccine. Doctors are saying these negative side effects are not related to the drug.

Given over a six-month period, many teens and young adults start or finish the doses while away at college.

“We follow the CDC standards,” said Megan Knapp, a health educator from SMU’s Memorial Health Center. “We’re pretty good about watching for updates on vaccines, so until there’s something scientifically proven we tell [students] there aren’t any serious side effects.”

When doctors first began promoting the vaccine in 2006, women between the ages of nine and 30 flocked to doctors’ offices around the country to protect themselves from the human papillomavirus. Since then, nearly 16 million doses have been administered across the United States, according to the Dallas Morning News.

According to the vaccine’s website,, Gardasil was created to protect women from four types of HPV strains. Two strains of the virus are directly linked to causing 70 percent of cervical cancer, and two causes are responsible for more than 90 percent of genital warts cases. The vaccine is administered in a three-shot series over a six-month period and is recommended for those who are not yet sexually active.

Allison Cooley, a sophomore at SMU, said her doctor recommended the vaccine during a regular checkup.

“[The doctor] didn’t mention any negative side effects, because when I started the shots they were still pretty new. I don’t think anyone really knew everything there was to know about them yet,” said Cooley.

Today, doctors warn patients about possible soreness around the injection site and the possibility of dizziness and nausea but fail to mention anything more serious. Many cite the failure to release in-depth information about potentially extreme side effects is because the CDC does not confirm these cases as being directly related to the vaccine.

“There are certain side effects but they are more anecdotal and not certain,” said Knapp “but as far as I’m aware we haven’t had any students come in complaining of extreme side effects.”

Many professionals and patients believe the benefits of shielding themselves from cervical cancer and other STD’s greatly outweigh the possibility of headaches and arm soreness.

Each year, approximately six million new cases of HPV are found among women, with nearly 4,440,000 of cases occurring in females between 15 and 24, according to the Gardasil website.

Entenman said when she first heard the negative side effects of the vaccine ,she asked her mother if she should continue with the series. Informing her daughter of other side effects caused by common medications, such as Advil, Entenman decided the potential for harm greatly outweighed the probability of developing cancer.

While the vaccine has been proven to greatly reduce a women’s chance of contacting genital warts and cervical cancer, doctors warn the vaccine is not for everyone. Patients allergic to Gardasil, or women who may be pregnant, are not recommended to start treatment according to

“When I got the vaccination it was like an extra safeguard for young, sexually active women,” said Entenman. “It was hip and cool and if you got it.”

To learn more information and how to receive the HPV vaccine, visit or call 214-768-3194.

More to Discover