The HPV vaccine was first recommended in June 2006. The vaccine, Gardasil, protects against four types of HPV, which together cause 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts. The vaccine is for girls and young women age 9-26, however the recommended age to start the vacination series is 11-12 years old. Gardasil is a series of three injections over a six month period, dose #2 given two months after dose #1, and dose #3 given six months after dose #1.
Gardasil does not treat existing HPV infections, genital warts, precancers or cancers. It is also less effective in young women who have already been exposed to one of the HPV types covered by the vaccine. This is why it is recommended for such young girls, ideally we want to vaccinate females before they are sexually active. I have spoken to many mothers who are concerned about giving a vaccination for a sexually transmitted infection to their young daughters who are clearly not having sex. But this is what the vaccination is for, prevention. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective, does not contain thimerosal or mercury, it contains no infectious material, and has shown no serious side effects. Over 11,000 females have been vaccinated world wide.
Gardasil is now only recommended for girls/women, but research is now being conducted to find out if the vaccine works to prevent HPV infection and disease in males.
This is a great medical advancement in women’s health. The HPV vaccine is helping to ensure future generations of women will not fall victim to cervical cancer.