Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

HPV vaccine fears unwarranted: agency

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OTTAWA -- The 14-year-old girl in Britain who died after being vaccinated against the virus that can cause cervical cancer had "a serious underlying medical condition which was likely to have caused death," a doctor in Britain said late Tuesday.

Natalie Morton's death on Monday had sparked fears the controversial vaccine may have caused the girl's death. It also moved the Public Health Agency of Canada earlier on Tuesday to urge parents that the tragedy should not stop Canadian women and girls from getting their shots.

Morton's death was being probed for its possible connection to the Cervarix vaccine, which protects against human papillomavirus (HPV). She died in hospital shortly after receiving the shot at her school in Coventry.

"This report should not deter girls and women from receiving HPV immunization. The risk of adverse reaction after receiving this vaccine is still very low," the Public Health Agency of Canada said in an email.

"The preliminary post-mortem results have revealed a serious underlying medical condition which was likely to have caused death," Dr. Caron Grainger, joint director of public health for the National Health Service in Coventry, said in an statement late Tuesday.

Cervarix is approved for sale in 98 countries, but Canada is not one of them. Its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, has asked Health Canada for permission to market it here and a decision is expected in early 2010. In the meantime, Gardasil is the only approved HPV vaccine available in Canada, made by Merck Frosst, and the one that is administered to young girls across the country.

-- Canwest News Service

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 30, 2009 A11

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