Gardasil: The Hpv Vaccine

November 1, 2009 by admin 

Gardasil: The HPV Vaccine The vaccine, Gardasil, is a shot given to prevent certain strains of cervical cancer caused by HPV. HPV stands for Human papillomavirus. The vaccine offers protection against the four most common strains of HPV; types 6, 11, 16 and 18. Types 16 and 18 account for 70% of cervical cancers while types 6 and 11 account for 90% of all cases of Genital Warts. It is given in three shots over a period of six-months. The vaccine is recommended for young girls ages 11 and 12 but is also recommended for girls and women 13 to 26 who have not yet been vaccinated or have not yet completed the series of shots for the vaccine.    This vaccine is important in the saving of women’s and young girls’ lives. Genital HPV is a virus that is most often passed on through sexual contact. Though most will not know it, most sexually active people will get the virus at some point in their life. There is somewhere around 40 strains of HPV that can infect both men and women. Most strains cause no symptoms or harm and go away on their own. There are a few strains that can be deadly and cause cervical cancer in women as well as other genital cancers, while other strains of HPV can cause Genital Warts in both men and women.   It is ideal for females to receive Gardasil before they become sexually active and may be exposed to the virus. However, this is not to say that those who are already sexually active will not benefit from receiving the vaccine. Most females are not infected with all strains of HPV and therefore will still be protected from those types of the virus to which they have not yet been exposed. Both young girls and women do not need to receive a Pap or other tests before receiving Gardasil. Testing is currently underway to find out the effectiveness and safety of the virus on those over the age of 26. It has yet to be found if the vaccine is effective in men or young boys. If Gardasil is found effective, the vaccine may help to prevent Genital Warts as well as both penile and anal cancer.   Gardasil is highly effective in the prevention of HPV. Due to the fact that the vaccine will not fully treat HPV, the vaccine has little effect on the virus in women who have already been exposed to the disease. Research is being done to test how long the vaccine lasts and if there may be a need for a booster shot later down the road for those who are receiving the vaccine. The vaccine is not effective in protecting from all strains of HPV, rather it protects against the most common strains of cervical cancers, so it is very important that women continue their regular checkups and screenings. Gardasil has been approved by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as effective and safe. Side effects of the shot are typically soreness of the injection site, fever, nausea and dizziness as well as other rare side effects.   By contacting your health care provider, you can get information about coverage for the vaccine. Call the phone number on your medical card to learn more about co-pays, co-insurance, deductibles, or other limitations. Most large insurance providers will cover the cost of the vaccine which is about $125 per dose, totaling about $375 for all three shots in the series. Those who are younger than 18 years of age may still be able to get Gardasil for free through the VFC (Vaccines for Children) program, although certain criteria and restrictions may apply. Merck, the maker of the vaccine, offers a vaccine assistance program to women who want to receive Gardasil but cannot afford it. In order to qualify for the program, women must be at least 19 years of age, uninsured, reside in the United States (need not be U.S. citizen), and have an annual income less than $20,800 for individuals, $28,000 for couples or $42,400 for a family of four. Texas, New Hampshire and South Dakota as well as other states have made the cost of the vaccine free or at low cost.   Women should continue regular cancer screenings and follow-ups. Pap smears can detect cell changes in the cervix before they turn into cancer. The HPV test can detect HPV on a woman’s cervix, which can be done along with a Pap. There is no cure for HPV so the vaccine is one of the best ways to prevent cervical cancer as well as using protection. The vaccine is not to be used in place of other contraceptive devices. If a person is infected, it may take weeks, months or even years to see signs or symptoms and should be addressed right away. The choice is yours to make. Protect yourself.


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