HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. HPV also plays a role in other cancers, including cancers of the penis, vulva, vagina, throat, and anus. Both men and women can be carriers and transmitters of HPV. If you have a child who is around nine years old, you may be wondering whether you should get them vaccinated against HPV.
Gardasil Protects Against Four of the 100 Possible HPV Types:
- Types 6 and 11: Associated with genital warts.
- Types 16 and 18: Shown to increase the risk of cervical cancer.
Is Gardasil Only for Women?
No. Gardasil is used for girls and women who are 9 to 26 years old. It is used to help protect against cervical, vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancer as well as genital warts. However, Gardasil is also used for boys and men in the same age range to protect against anal cancer, genital warts, and precancerous anal lesions.
What Is Gardasil?
Gardasil is a white, cloudy liquid that is injected into your muscle. The recommended regimen involves three single injections of .5 ml of Gardasil over a period of six months: the first injection, then another after two months, and then after another four months, a third dose is administered.
The FDA approved Gardasil in 2006. This makes some parents uneasy. The clinical studies used to approve Gardasil were based on the combined data from four trials that studied about 20,000 women.
Gardasil Side Affects
There is a surprisingly wide variety of adverse reactions surrounding the administration of Gardasil. But more on that later.
The most common side effects associated with Gardasil are:
- Erythema at Injection Site: A painful disorder that causes tender bumps, known as nodules, to appear under the skin
- Nasopharyngitis: The common cold
On the site of your Gardasil injection, you may experience:
A small portion of patients (.475%) in the Gardasil trials experienced some serious adverse reactions, including:
- Appendicitis: A condition in which your appendix fills with pus and becomes inflamed, requiring removal.
- Gastroenteritis: Also known as the stomach flu, this intestinal infection is marked by cramps, diarrhea, severe nausea, vomiting, and fever.
- Headaches: If your headaches become severe or chronic, consult your doctor about what may be causing them.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: Also called a Pelvic Infection, this is a very painful condition that is caused when the female reproductive organs become infected.
The following side effects may be signs of an allergic reaction to Gardasil. Call your doctor if you have any of the following problems following your vaccination:
- Aching Muscles or Muscle Weakness
- Bad Stomachache
- Bleeding or Bruising More Easily
- Chest Pain
- Difficulty Breathing
- Joint Pain
- Leg Pain
- Skin Infections
- Swollen Glands (neck, armpit, groin)
- Unusual Tiredness
- Wheezing or Shortness of Breath
Gardasil may not fully protect everyone from cervical cancer or genital warts. It also does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so it is important for you to go to routine cervical screenings as you would normally.
Who should not take Gardasil?
- Allergies: If you are severely allergic to yeast, amorphous aluminum, hydroxyphosphate sulfate, or polysorbate 80, you should not receive Gardasil.
- Cancer or Genital Warts Patients: Gardasil is a preventative measure and not a treatment vaccine. It will not treat cancer or genital warts.
- Immune Deficiencies: if you have immune problems like HIV, cancer, or if you take medicines that affect your immune system, you should not take Gardasil.
- Pregnant Women: Because the clinical trials that got Gardasil accepted by the FDA did not include any pregnant women in their samples; there is simply not enough evidence to show whether or not getting vaccinated with Gardasil will harm your unborn child.
- Fever: If your temperature is over 100 degrees at the time of your scheduled vaccination, it would be wise to wait until you are at a normal temperature.
Controversy Surrounding Gardasil
You may have heard about some of the controversy surrounding Gardasil and the development of diseases, disabilities, and deaths in young girls injected with the vaccine. There have been relatively few studies done, and Gardasil is a relatively new vaccine. More research is needed to guarantee its total safety. Although there is a consensus among the medical community that Gardasil is safe, there have been serious risks and complications associated with the vaccine.Almost 30,000 reports of serious negative effects and 128 reports of deaths (all within the population of girls and women aged 9-24) were sent to the United States government’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System in the six years following the FDA’s approval of Gardasil. These issues included, but were not limited to:
- Genital Warts
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Ovarian Cysts
One problem involved in judging the efficacy of Gardasil is that it was tested for five years after administration, but the HPV virus can lie dormant for up to two decades. Gardasil has also been accused of providing a false sense of security to young girls– it only works against four out of one hundred different forms of HPV.
You need to educate yourself about the complications and efficacy of Gardasil and gather research from as many sources as you can to form your own conclusions about whether Gardasil is right for you.
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