An investigation is under way into a possible connection between a controversial cervical cancer vaccine and the death of a girl.

Health Minister Tony Ryall's office has confirmed that the Otago University-based Centre for Adverse Reaction Monitoring (CARM) had been asked to see if there is any link between the girl's death and the Gardasil vaccination.

CARM director Michael Tatley yesterday told the Herald an investigation was under way, but details of the girl's death were "really scant stuff".

The matter was still before the coroner. The girl is believed to have died in the past couple of months.

Her death had come within six months of receiving the Gardasil vaccination, but it was not known if she had completed the course - generally three shots administered six weeks apart.

Mr Ryall's office - in response to a question by Green MP Sue Kedgley - said that although the matter had been referred to CARM for investigation, there was no established connection between the girl's death and the vaccine.

"At the present time, CARM have assigned the causality assessment as 'unclassifiable' due to lack of information.

"A report to CARM of an adverse event following immunisation does not necessarily mean that the vaccine caused the event."

Gardasil vaccinations in schools began in January this year, and as of August, more than 170,000 doses had been administered.

Some 173 suspected adverse reactions had been recorded.

Most reactions were soreness, swelling or redness at the injection site, raised temperatures, headaches, nausea, skin reactions - mostly rashes - and fainting. Serious adverse reactions are rare; one is anaphylaxis, which happens about three times for every million doses.

Twelve-year-old girls in New Zealand are offered free immunisation against the types of human papillomavirus that cause most cervical cancer. Girls aged 13 to 18 are also entitled to the immunisation.

Gardasil is one of two HPV vaccines available, but the only one used in New Zealand. The other, known as Cervarix, caused a scare in Britain after a girl died this year.

The teenager received the Cervarix injection, which was given to girls at Blue Coat Church of England in Coventry. At the time, Stewart Jessamine of Medsafe said no deaths had been attributed to Gardasil, which is used in more than 100 other countries and in several other overseas school immunisation programmes.