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The human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in America. Not only is HPV associated with genital warts, it is known to cause cervical cancer in women and other types of cancers in men. Several years ago, the development of a vaccination to protect against the transmission of HPV was announced. There are currently two vaccinations for HPV being manufactured: Gardisil and Cervarix.

The CDC recommends that all boys and girls should finish the three HPV preventative shots by the time the time they are 11 or 12 (earlier if they are known to be sexually active) to help prevent the spread of the disease. However, according to Women's Health Magazine, early research into Gardasil and Cervarix showed that neither drug was entirely effective five years after the three-dose vaccine was administered. Cervical cancer is a slow-growing cancer, so for a vaccine to truly be effective it would need to be so for at least 15 years. “In the absence of long-term studies,” Women's Health reports, “scientists can not say whether women who have received the shots will need to be poked again later.”

WebMD also reports of ongoing HPV vaccination debates in regards to the benefits and risks associated with the vaccination, as “many adverse events have been registered with the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS).” Over 18,000 complaints were reported by the end of 2010. And while most of the events were categorized as minor, there were reports consisting of blood clotting and Guillain-Barre Syndrome. In fact, one of the lead researchers for Gardasil, Dr. Diane Harper, revealed that “the side effects reported so far call for more complete disclosure to patients” and that patients need to be informed that protection “might not last long enough to provide a cancer protection benefit.”

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Since 1988, the first year in which such records were kept, there have been more than 15,000 claims filed in the United States for personal injury caused by vaccination. The year with the highest number of cases filed was 2003, in which nearly 3,000 claims – one-fifth of the aggregate total – were filed, followed by 2004. According to theHealth Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the number of claims filed in 2013 (the most recent year for which complete data was available) was 503. As of March 2014, 218 claims had been filed. These types of claims cost the medical industry hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The most common types of injuries caused by vaccinations are temporary and not serious.

As reported by the History of Vaccines, an initiative of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, side effects can generally include soreness, swelling, redness, fever, aching, or rash, especially at the site of the vaccine. More serious, life threatening risks of vaccinations are often a result of an allergic reaction.

Until the 1950s, patients who were injured after receiving a properly manufactured vaccine had no legal recourse. In the Gottsdanker v. Cutter Laboratories case, however, the California Supreme Court ruled that although the lab had not been negligent, it was still financially responsible for the harm caused by its Salk polio vaccine.

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