The first vaccine developed to prevent cancer

What you should know about HPV vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed the HPV vaccine for use in girls/women, ages 9-26 years. The vaccine is given through a series of three shots over a six month period.
Human Papilloma Virus is transmitted through sexual contact and has no symptoms, so people do not know they have it. The virus infects a woman’s cervix and can cause the cells to change. These cell changes can lead to cancer, over time, if they are not treated. Both men and women can get HPV and pass it to on to their sex partners without even realizing it.
     The vaccine has no serious side effects. There is no thimerosal or mercury in the vaccine. It is made up of proteins from the outer coat of the virus (HPV). There is no infectious material in the vaccine. The vaccine has been tested on 11,000 women all over the world and has been approved by the FDA.

     Studies  have found the vaccine to be almost 100% effective in preventing diseases caused by the four HPV types covered by the vaccine; including pre-cancers of the cervix, vulva and vagina and genital warts mainly in young women who had not been exposed to any of the four types in the vaccine. At least 50% of sexually active people will get HPV at some time in their lives. Ideally, females should receive the vaccine before they are sexually active to acquire its full benefits.

     This vaccine does not treat existing HPV infections, genital warts, pre-cancers or cancers.
Thus far, studies have followed women for five years and found that they are still protected. More research is being done to evaluate the need for future booster vaccines. It is important to receive all three doses of the vaccine.

     The vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV. Approximately 30% of cervical cancers  and 10% of genital warts will not be prevented by the vaccine so, it is important for women to continue screening through regular pap tests. The vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women.

     The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2006, over 9,700 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3,700 women will die from this cancer in the US.

     The Genesee County Health Department has the HPV vaccine available for girls 9-18 years of age who are uninsured or underinsured. For more information or to make an appointment, contact the Genesee County Health Department at 344-2580 Ext. 5000.

     The Genesee County Health Department is also collaborating with Cancer Services Program of Genesee and Orleans Counties to provide the vaccine for women 19 to 26. The Program may offer vaccine and other services such as pap tests and mammograms free for those who are uninsured or underinsured. For more information you may contact them at 344-5494.