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HPV vaccine gardasil safe, but questioned

Jenny Decker RN's picture

In the recent past, the HPV vaccine gardasil has been blamed for severe side effects. However, a new study has shown that the vaccine is safe. As with any other type of medical treatment, there can be side effects, and gardasil is no different. There is still a small chance of fainting or developing blood clots after the shot. It is not clear if this is directly related to the vaccine or some other coincidence.

Many experts are concerned that there may not be a real need for the vaccine as the human papillomavirus. H. Hunter Handsfield, MD, a clinical professor at the University of Washington in Seattle indicates that HPV is generally harmless to most people. He says it is “pretty universal, unavoidable, and usually not harmful.” In fact, he states that sexually active adults have probably contracted many different types of the virus and did not even know it.

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The HPV vaccine gardasil protects against 4 different strains of the virus, two of which are responsible for cervical cancer and two that are responsible for genital warts. Experts have voiced their concern that Merck’s commercials for the vaccine have pushed the idea that it is curable and that there is no chance of getting cervical cancer. At this time, that is not necessarily true.

Experts state the most important thing to do to avoid cervical cancer is to have yearly Pap smears and use condoms or other plastic or latex barriers. This is to prevent the HPV infection, although this is not a proven method of prevention either. Signs of cervical cancer include painful sex, vaginal bleeding, and discharge. It is preventable. Abstinence is the best HPV vaccine.

The CDC recommends that girls be immunized with the HPV vaccine gardasil at around 11 to 12 years of age before they become sexually active. Girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26 are approved to get the vaccine as well. However, it may not be effective if they have already contracted the strains of the virus that cause the cancer.