Gardasil (Merck & Co.), also known as Silgard, is a vaccine against certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). Gardasil is the only cervical cancer vaccine that helps protect against 4 types of human papillomavirus (HPV): 2 types that cause 70% of cervical cancer cases, and 2 more types that cause 90% of genital warts cases. Gardasil is for girls and young women ages 9 to 26.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections cause nearly all cases of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the fifth leading cause of death from cancer in women world- wide, and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the majority of developing countries.
Gardasil is only effective in preventing HPV infections, not in treating those already infected by HPV, and so the vaccine must be given before HPV infection occurs in order to be effective. For this reason it is recommended to administer the vaccine before adolescence and the onset of sexual activity.
Gardasil is given in three injections over six months. The second injection is two months after the first, and the third injection is four months after the second shot is administered.
Anyone who is allergic to the ingredients of Gardasil, including those severely allergic to yeast, should not receive the vaccine. Gardasil is not for women who are pregnant. Gardasil does not treat cervical cancer or genital warts.
Gardasil may not fully protect everyone, and does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so it’s important to continue routine cervical cancer screenings.
Gardasil will not protect against diseases caused by other HPV types or against diseases not caused by HPV.
The side effects include pain, swelling, itching, bruising, and redness at the injection site, headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and fainting. Gardasil is given as 3 injections over 6 months.
Only a doctor or health care professional can decide if Gardasil is right for you or your daughter.
According to the American Centers for Disease Control, getting as many girls vaccinated as early and as quickly as possible will reduce the cases of cervical cancer among middle-aged women in 30 to 40 years and reduce the transmission of this highly communicable disease.
The FDA and CDC consider the vaccine to be safe. The National Cancer Institute says, “FDA-approved Gardasil prevented nearly 100 percent of the precancerous cervical cell changes caused by the types of HPV targeted by the vaccine for up to 4 years after vaccination.” The vaccine is believed to be effective for longer, but for how long, and whether a booster shot will be needed is still being studied.
GARDASIL – cervical cancer vaccine
Although at least 20 women who received the Gardasil vaccine have died, there is no evidence that deaths or serious outcomes were connected to the shot (Rosenthal, Elisabeth, 2008).
One unknown property of the vaccines now being researched is the persistence of their protective effects. Since the vaccine has only been administered for several years now, it is unknown whether they will provide life-long immunity to recipients. In coming decades, further study will answer this question.
Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.