Gardasil, also known as Gardasil 9, is a vaccine used to prevent infections caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). Here are some key points about Gardasil:
- Gardasil is primarily used to protect against certain strains of HPV that can cause various health issues, including cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, and throat cancers. It also provides protection against genital warts.
- HPV and Cancer: HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that can lead to the development of cancers in both males and females. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection worldwide. HPV infections are often transient and resolve on their own, but in some cases, persistent infection with high-risk HPV types can lead to the development of cancer over time.
- Gardasil is a recombinant vaccine that targets four types of HPV: HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18. These types are responsible for the majority of HPV-related cancers and genital warts. Gardasil 9, an updated version of the vaccine, provides protection against an additional five high-risk HPV types (31, 33, 45, 52, and 58).
- Gardasil is administered as a series of injections. The recommended schedule for vaccination includes two or three doses, depending on the age at which the vaccination begins. The vaccine is typically given to adolescents, ideally before they become sexually active, as it is most effective when administered prior to exposure to HPV.
- Gardasil has been extensively studied and found to be safe and highly effective in preventing HPV-related diseases. Common side effects are usually mild and include pain or redness at the injection site, headache, fever, and dizziness.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health organizations recommend routine HPV vaccination for both boys and girls, starting at around 11 or 12 years of age. Vaccination is also recommended for young adults who have not previously received the vaccine.
- It’s important to note that while Gardasil provides significant protection against certain HPV types, it does not provide protection against all types. Therefore, routine cervical cancer screening (such as Pap smears) is still recommended for vaccinated individuals to detect any abnormalities or potential HPV-related changes.