With every widespread medical introduction comes many misconceptions and the HPV vaccine is no exception. We debunk the myths and false impressions that have come up over the years since the HPV vaccination was introduced.
Human Pappilomas virus is a group of more than 150 related viruses; each strand of the virus is given a
number to define its HPV type. The viruses are transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact, most
commonly through vaginal or anal sex. In most cases HPV infections like genital warts do not cause any health problems. However, if a person is infected by HPV types 16 and 18 collectively, research shows that there is a 70 per cent chance that this person will develop various types of cancer in the mouth, throat and, most commonly, cervix in women.
With the rise of HPV cancer all over the world, scientists and researchers have developed a way to help reduce the likelihood of developing the disease via a vaccination that was introduced in 2006. But even with the widespread vaccinations all over the world, many are still in the dark about the vaccine and are hesitant about getting immunised. So what exactly is the HPV vaccine and is it proven to be safe?
MORE About the Vaccines
There are two strands of HPV vaccines, Cervarix and the more commonly used Gardasil 9. As of September 2009, Gardasil 9 received approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is highly recommended by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be administered to girls between the ages of 11 or 12. CDC recommends the injection to be taken at a young age as the vaccine has been shown to produce stronger immune response when taken during preteen years. As such, the vaccination that is usually administered in three doses in the span of three to six months will only be administered in just two doses to preteens.
DEBUNKING the Myths
Over the years since Gardasil 9 has been introduced, many misconceptions were formed as the worldwide debate continued about vaccinations in general. Many were especially confused about the age that the HPV vaccine should be administered. While official channels like the CDC put emphasis on administering the vaccine on preteen and teenaged girls, the vaccine is also recommended for women between the ages of 15 through 26. While the vaccine shows the strongest immune response for girls in their preteens, it doesn’t mean that a woman in her late 20s should not seek out a certified clinic to get the vaccination. In fact, the FDA has also approved the use of Gardasil 9 on males and females aged between 27 and 45, expanding the use of the previous indication of nine to 26. In Malaysia, the Gardasil 9 vaccine has been made officially available to women since 2010. While the Ministry of Health had quickly implemented the vaccine into school health programmes, the vaccine still has not received widespread support from women around the country. The biggest concern among women is the side effects after the injection. The CDC has announced that HPV vaccines are safe for all women and the side effects are mild. Side effects include swelling and pain in the injected area, fainting, nausea and headaches.
Even after taking the vaccination, women are still encouraged to continue going for pap smear check ups from time to time as the vaccine isn’t intended to replace the pap tests. Regular pap tests should be carried out regularly beginning from age 21 as an essential part of a woman’s preventive health care. At the moment, a number of campaigns and drives have been created to encourage more women to take that step to prevent cancers caused by HPV viruses.