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Death following HPV jab prompts calls for DH inquiry

By Nigel Praities

The death of a 14-year-old girl in Coventry following a routine HPV vaccination has prompted calls for an Government inquiry into the safety of the vaccine.

The teenager, named locally as Natalie Morton, was taken ill at the Blue Coat Church of England School shortly after she had received her HPV vaccination and later died in hospital.

Local NHS chiefs say they are conducting a ‘full investigation' and have withdrawn the batch of HPV vaccine used at the school, but questions have been raised about the safety of the whole HPV vaccination programme.

A routine programme of vaccinating 12 and 13-year-old girls started in September 2008 in schools across the UK using the Cervarix vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline. A catch-up campaign is now under way for older girls.

Conservative health spokesperson Andrew Lansley urged the Government to look again at its use of Cervarix in the national schools-based programme.

‘The Department of Health and the MHRA need to investigate, as a matter of urgency, what the cause of this is so they can assess how widespread the problem could be.'

‘This again raises the question which we have asked for some time, as to why the Government won't publish the assessments it made of the relative merits of the two HPV vaccines and why we therefore use a different vaccine to most other comparable countries,' he said.

The death comes weeks after the high-street pharmacist Boots announced it was to offer HPV vaccination to women aged 18 to 54, who fall outside the national schools-based programme.

Dr Caron Grainger, joint director of public health for NHS Coventry and Coventry City Council, said they were urgently investigating the death and no conclusions could be drawn as yet.

‘No link can be made between the death and the vaccine until all the facts are known and a post mortem takes place. NHS Coventry has taken the proactive step to quarantine the batch of vaccine being used as a precautionary measure only and have informed the regulatory authority,' she said.

The manufacturer of Cervarix said they were working with authorities. Dr Pim Kon, medical director at GlaxoSmithKline UK said: 'Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of the young girl.'

‘We are working with the Department of Health and MHRA to better understand this case, as at this stage the exact cause of this tragic death is unknown.'

14-year-old Natalie Morton died shortly after receiving her HPV vaccination, although the cause of her death has yet to be established 14-year-old Natalie Morton died shortly after receiving her HPV vaccination, although the cause of her death has yet to be established

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