Still on the fence about getting vaccinated against HPV? HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the push youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been waiting for: New research provides further evidence that MerckÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s HPV vaccine, Gardasil, is safe.
Researchers found that Gardasil isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t linked to serious health effects in a new follow-up study of nearly 190,000 girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26 who had received at least one dose of the vaccine in a two-year period.
To gather this intel, the researchers looked into the study participantsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ medical records. The red flags they were looking for: Whether any of these women visited the emergency department or were hospitalized in the two weeks after they were vaccinated, and then again a few months later.
What they found was that receiving the shot caused only mild side effects. Some women fainted the day of their vaccine, and others experienced swelling at the injection siteÃ¢â‚¬”both common reactions to any vaccine.
This study, which was published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, is "very reassuring," says Laura Corio, MD, an OBGYN at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
First approved by the FDA in 2006, Gardasil protects against four strains ofÃ‚Â HPV: 16 and 18 (which can cause cervical cancer) and 6 and 11 (which cause genital warts). Corio believes that the vaccine should be mandatory for all girls and guys (itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also approved for boys and men) and says that, to be most effective, it should be given before he or she is sexually active. Right now, the three-dose vaccine is approved and recommended for all teen girls and women 26 and younger and all teen boys and men 21 and younger, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC also encourages getting all three shots for the greatest health benefits.
"The benefits [of the vaccine] clearly outweigh the risks," says Corio. "Not only are we trying to prevent cervical cancer, but also vaginal, vulvar, anal, and oral cavity cancers."
Around 20 million Americans currently have HPV, and each year, approximately 12,000 women get cervical cancer in the U.S., according to the CDC. Another disturbing fact: Since many infected women don't show any HPV symptoms, you (or your partner) might have the virus and not even know it. Plus, at least half of sexually active people will get it at some point in their lives (with research pointing to a figure closer to 80 percent of women). If thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not incentive to get vaccinated, we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what is.
For more information about the vaccine, including potential risks, click here.
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