Five Important Facts about the HPV Vaccine Gardasil
The HPV vaccine Gardasil is offered by Pacific Family Practice to young women and men between the ages of 16 and 18, but can be administered to children as young as 9 and adults as old as 26. The vaccine is safe and effective in preventing the spread of the human papilloma virus (HPV), as well as preventing the types of cervical cancers connected to that virus. However, even with the clear benefits the vaccine offers young people, many teenagers still do not receive it.
The reasons for this choice are of course personal, but unfortunately many parents do not pursue vaccination against HPV for their child because they heard myths and misunderstandings about what the vaccine is for and what it does. It is up to every parent to make the best healthcare decisions possible for their child, but we hope that we can alleviate your concerns about Gardasil.
- Yes, Gardasil is safe. The Gardasil vaccine is FDA approved for use on women and men within the age ranges stated above. It is possible that someone can be allergic to the ingredients found in the vaccine, so you should check with your doctor whether an allergic reaction is possible. Your physician may ask that you remain seated for 5 to 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine to ensure that a reaction has not occurred. Please note: the vaccine consists of 2-3 shots depending on the patient's age. If age 12, it's two shots, if older than age 12 it's three. It is critical to complete all of the required shots for the vaccine to be effective. If you have not yet completed the vaccination schedule, you will need to visit our office to finish your last 1-2 shots.
- Gardasil is for boys as well. HPV is not limited to transmission in female patients as young men can carry and spread HPV as well. Although the vaccine is typically marketed toward young women because it prevents certain types of cervical cancer, this does not mean it is only for women.
- No, condoms are not enough to prevent HPV transmission. Of course, a condom should be used during intercourse to prevent STDs and pregnancy, but a condom does not cover the entire genital area. Since HPV spreads through any genital contact, the virus can still be contracted, even with proper condom usage. Using the Gardasil vaccine in addition to a condom will efficiently prevent HPV.
- There is no cure for HPV right now. HPV can be treated but it cannot be cured. Some patients will exhibit symptoms such as genital warts (which can be removed by a trained physician), but others can go years without realizing they have the virus because they are not experiencing symptoms.
- Other forms of contraception will not prevent HPV. The birth control pill, an IUI or implant will not stop the spread of the human papilloma virus or other STDs. Those forms of birth control need to be used in conjunction with a condom to prevent pregnancy and STDs, but HPV can still be transmitted.
If you have questions or concerns about Gardasil or HPV prevention, please contact Pacific Family Practice today. Our physicians and providers can answer your questions and provide guidance as you decide if the HPV vaccine is right for you or your teenager.