By now, you must have heard of the HPV vaccination, which unlike other vaccines, is administered to both adolescent youths and adults. Like many, you’re probably wondering what this HPV vaccination is, and why you should get it. Worry not. Here’s information you may need concerning the HPV vaccine and its importance.
What Is HPV?
HPV stands for Human Papilloma Virus. It is a type of virus that is known to cause cervical cancer in women, genital warts in both women and men, as well as throat cancer in the aforementioned parties.
The Human Papilloma Virus manifests itself in more than 40 distinct forms, and it is mainly spread through sexual contact, hence the need for the vaccine.
Contents of The HPV Vaccine, and Why It Is Imperative that You Get It
HPV infection is quite common, especially in sexually active persons. At some point, you might contract HPV, but you may not know it, as its symptoms do not show. More often than not, the infection ends up clearing on its own.
However, in some unfortunate cases, it can result in cervical cancer in women, genital warts in both men and women, as well as throat and anal cancer in both genders. The HPV vaccine is available in two forms, namely:
- Gardasil – Gardasil is designed to prevent you from getting infected by an array of HPV strains, such as HPV-16, HPV-18, and HPV-6 and HPV-11. HPV-6 and HPV-11 are especially notorious for causing genital warts.
This HPV vaccination is very effective in preventing the human papilloma virus, alongside the resultant life-threatening ailments it brings along such as cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, penis and throat.
- Gardasil 9 – Like Gardasil, Gardasil 9 ensures that you do not contract the same HPV strains as Gardasil, as well as HPV-31, HPV-33, HPV-45, HPV-52, and HPV-58. The aforesaid strains of HPV are implicated in causing 90% of cervical cancers in women.
Note that, in the event that you contract HPV, getting the vaccine will not treat or cure your infection. It’s imperative that you go for HPV vaccination as soon as possible, and in the event that you got it in your younger days, a re-vaccination is recommended.
HPV Vaccination Age Limit
Previously, the Ministry of Health, Kenya allowed for administration of the HPV vaccination to persons between ages 9 to 13. However, since its importance was proven many health centers by the year 2018 hoped to allow its administration to persons aged between 9 to 26 years.
Where Is the HPV Vaccine Locally Available?
Human Papillomavirus vaccination can be administered at subsidized costs at all government sponsored hospitals, private hospitals, as well as doctor’s consulting clinics. However, for the last two centers, prices might be on the higher side.
For the recombinant HPV vaccine, for instance, a single dose costs Ksh.14,742 in private hospitals. Cervarix on the other hand costs Ksh.8,000 a dose, while its generic version is way cheaper at Ksh. 3,000 a dose.
Will the HPV Vaccine Affect Your Unborn Baby?
The HPV vaccination is not recommended for pregnant women, theoretically, because it is not a live vaccine. However, it’s not expected to be associated with increased risk.
Possible Side Effects of The HPV Vaccine
Unlike other vaccines which contain live viruses, the HPV vaccine contains no human viruses, as it is not made from human papilloma virus. Instead, its active ingredients emanate from bacteria that is genetically modified, to produce proteins similar to those found in HPV. After harvesting, the proteins are purified and mixed in a sterile, water based solution. While side effects of use are not common, the following side effects may be experienced:
- Mild fever after the vaccination.
- Severe Itching at the injection site.
- Moderate fever.
HPV is one of the most common STDs. It is therefore a big relief to know that the vaccine can protect you against some strains of HPV that cause life threatening problems.
It is also encouraging to see that the vaccine is now available for persons aged 9 to 45 years.
Please note that development differs from one child to another.
Content intended for educational purposes only, and not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.
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Last reviewed March 2019
Sources: webmd, who, livescience, plannedparenthood, medscape, nation