Gardasil is a vaccine that was approved by the FDA in 2006. Gardasil provides protection against four different strains of the human papillomavirus, commonly known as HPV. Those strains include 6, 11, 16, and 18. This is significant because two of these strains are responsible for approximately 75% of cervical cancers. In addition to preventing cervical cancer, the vaccination also provides protection against 90% of genital warts cases.
In order to better understand why Gardasil is so important, we must first examine the prevalence of HPV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is currently the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It is estimated that as many as 20 million Americans currently have HPV and there may be as many as 6 million additional cases each year. In many of these cases, people may be unaware that they have been infected and are spreading the virus to others through sexual contact. The virus may resolve on its own, but unlike other sexually transmitted infections, HPV may also lead to several types of cancer including: cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, and oropharyngeal.
Gardasil has the potential to and protect people from contracting this deadly virus, especially adolescents that are virgins. This is the reason that the current recommendation for the HPV vaccination begins at such a young age. Currently the CDC recommends that male and female adolescents begin the vaccination series between 11-12 years of age, with catch up vaccinations between 13-26 for females and 13-21 for males. The vaccination is a three part series with the second vaccination occurring 2 months after initial vaccination and then the third dose occurring 6 months after initial vaccination. Gardasil has proven to be a safe and effective vaccination. According to the Vaccine Information Statement by the CDC, side effects are similar to any vaccination and may include redness and pain at injection site, fever, headache, or fainting. As with any vaccination, watch for serious allergic reaction. With risk of side effects being minimal and potential for protection so great, it is easy to see why this is a very important vaccination to consider.
Talk with your doctor today about the Gardasil vaccine.