Girl dies after cancer vaccine

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A 14-year-old girl has died in Coventry shortly after receiving a vaccination to protect her against cervical cancer.

Natalie Morton is understood to have collapsed shortly after receiving the Cervarix vaccine as part of a national campaign to protect girls against the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is the main cause of cervical cancer.

More than 1.4 million girls in Britain have so far received the jab, but no suspicious deaths have previously been reported.

The NHS in Coventry said that it has suspended the vaccination programme in local schools for at least two days while a “full and urgent investigation” is carried out.

The health authority added that no direct link between Natalie’s death and the HPV jab could be made until a post-mortem examination was carried out. But it added that it had quarantined the batch used at the school as a precaution.

A spokesman for NHS Coventry told The Times: “We have paused the immunisation programme and there will be no vaccinations taking place while we will review the situation.

“Naturally there will be anxiety and concern in the community and the reason we are doing this is to give our staff and the school time to address any questions that parents may have.”

Cervarix guards against certain strains of the human papilloma virus, a sexually transmitted infection that causes up to 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases. In the UK, 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year and about 1,000 women die from the disease.

By 2011 all girls under 18 will have been offered the vaccine, as part of a national vaccination campaign that began with 12 and 13-year-old girls last September.

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