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What is the HPV Vaccine?

Updated: 6 days ago

Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable and treatable with the HPV vaccine, alongside regular screening and appropriate treatment. Despite this, in the Philippines less than 5% of women have completed the necessary dosages. HPV Vaccination is a critical tool in the fight against cervical cancer and it's important to ensure we are all aware of its importance.


Understanding the HPV Vaccine

The HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine is designed to protect against specific cancers caused by HPV infection. HPV is a highly common sexually transmitted infection (STI) responsible for various cancers, including cervical, vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, and throat cancers. Additionally, it can cause genital warts. The vaccine is recommended for individuals aged 9 to 45.



child vaccine
The HPV vaccine can be administered to young children (female and male). It is important to complete all dosages prior to sexual activity.


Importance of the HPV Vaccine

The HPV vaccine is administered as a series of shots that effectively prevent HPV infections. HPV spreads through skin-to-skin contact, and it is so prevalent that approximately 80% of sexually active individuals will contract an HPV infection at some point. While most HPV infections are cleared by the immune system, some persist and can lead to cancer or genital warts. This makes the HPV vaccine an essential preventive measure.


Types of HPV Vaccines

Three HPV vaccines have been developed, each offering different levels of protection:

  1. Gardasil-9: The most comprehensive HPV vaccine, protecting against nine HPV strains associated with 90% of cervical cancers, 90% of anal cancers, and 90% of genital warts.

  2. Gardasil: An earlier version of the vaccine, protecting against four strains of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts.

  3. Cervarix: Protects against the two most high-risk strains of HPV but does not cover genital warts.


Vaccination Recommendations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the HPV vaccine for:

  • Children aged 9-13: The optimal age for vaccination, though it can be administered as early as age 9.

  • Adults up to age 26: Including those who began the vaccine series but did not complete it.

  • Adults aged 27-45: Adults in this age range can also benefit from the vaccine, particularly if they have had few or no previous sexual partners.



vaccine woman
Alongside other preventative screenings, the HPV vaccine is an effective mechanism against cervical cancer


Contraindications and Considerations

This is a safe and effective vaccine available for both adolescent and adult women to prevent HPV infection and the development of cervical cancer.


HPV vaccination does not require screening for HPV infection or pre-cancerous cervical lesions.


The vaccine is safe and can be administered to adolescent and adult women.


Some individuals should avoid the HPV vaccine, including those who:

  • Are pregnant (due to limited research on safety during pregnancy).

  • Had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose or its ingredients.

  • Have a moderate to severe illness at the time of vaccination.


Vaccination Schedule

The number of shots required depends on the age at which vaccination begins:

  • Ages 9-15: Two shots, six to twelve months apart.

  • Ages 15 and older: Three shots over six months.


Benefits and Effectiveness

The HPV vaccine has shown significant benefits, reducing HPV-related cancers and genital warts by over 80%. It provides long-lasting protection, with current data indicating effectiveness for at least a decade. The vaccine's benefits are clear: reduced rates of cervical cancer and other HPV-related cancers, especially when administered before individuals become sexually active.


Addressing Concerns and Misconceptions

Despite its benefits, some people opt out of the HPV vaccine due to allergies, misinformation, or other concerns. The vaccine provides critical protection for future sexual health.


Widespread adoption of the HPV vaccine is a crucial step in preventing cervical cancer and other HPV-related diseases. It is a safe, effective tool that can save lives. By increasing awareness and addressing misconceptions, we can work towards a future where cervical cancer is a rarity, not a common threat. For personalized advice, you may consult with one of our OB/GYNs and healthcare providers to understand the benefits of the HPV vaccine based on their health and sexual history.



If you are interested in learning more about how to get your HPV vaccine for yourself, a family member or your organisation, please reach out to us at [email protected].


 

Hati Health is a digital platform for women, providing on-demand access to products and services, including telehealth, symptom checking, holistic wellness plans and education.


We believe that being able to talk openly about women's healthcare and bringing appropriate solutions will inspire women to achieve their fullest potential in their personal and professional lives.

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