The HPV Vaccination

The human Papilloma virus is quite a troubling virus for the human population. There are over 100 different strains of the virus and a number of these cause an increased risk in cancers. Around 40 of these strains have also been linked to anogenital warts. There are approximately two strains that commonly cause anogenital warts and there are another two strains that are responsible for an increased risk in cervical cancer. Therefore, companies have strived to create a vaccination to protect girls from this risk.

In 2008, a vaccination was approved in the United Kingdom called Cervarix, which was given to teenage girls. It provided protection against HPV16 and HPV18, which are the two strains that are high risk for cervical cancer. However, in the United States, another vaccination had been made that could also protect against the two strains HPV6 and HPV11 that cause anogenital warts as well as providing protection for the cancerous strains. This version is called Gardasil and will be used in the United Kingdom from September 2012 onwards.


GlaxoSmithKline are a pharmaceutical company that developed a vaccination called Cervarix to protect girls against the Human Papilloma virus. It contains the strains HPV16 and HPV18, which are two strains that are considered high risk in causing cervical cancer. If you contract one of these two strains, the risk of you having cervical cancer is increased. Therefore, the aim of this vaccination was to provide protection for girls that would be reaching sexual maturity as the strains can be passed on via sexual contact.

The Cervarix vaccination has only come into action in the past few years so therefore it is relatively new and the outcomes are not yet conclusive. So far, research suggests that the vaccine will provide six years of protection against the HPV virus strains 16 and 18. It may or may not last longer than this period but further research is needed. The vaccine has to be given in a certain way in order to be effective and you need to have had three doses of the vaccination for it to protect you. These doses have to be given over the period of one year and the second dose must be given at least one month after the first dose and there must be a gap of at least three months before the final dose.

This form of HPV vaccination has been administered to girls over the age of 12 so before they reach sexual maturity. The government has recently changed the form of the vaccine to Gardasil as it provides protection against more strains of the HPV virus and this came into effect in September 2012.


Gardasil is another vaccination that was produced to combat the HPV virus. This vaccination has a bigger advantage over Cervarix because it protects you against an additional two strains of HPV. The strains HPV6 and HPV11 cause the sexually transmitted disease anogenital warts and Gardasil provides protection against these two strains as well as HPV16 and HPV18. Therefore, you are protected against a higher risk of cancer and anogenital warts.

The vaccine is given in the same way of Cervarix, as the only difference between the vaccinations is the stains that it protects against. Gardasil needs to be administered within a 12-month period with the correct gaps between the doses. It does not matter if the doses have a bigger time frame between them than suggested, as long as they fall within the 12-month period. Therefore, if a dose is due at an inconvenient time such as in the exam period, there is some flexibility. The injections may cause pain in the arm or headaches for a short time after the dose.

Important things to remember about the HPV vaccination

There are many different strains of the Human Papilloma Virus and therefore, the vaccination cannot protect against all these different types. However, it will protect you against 6,11,16 and 18 if you have Gardasil. There is a 99% success rate in protecting against anogenital warts and although this is high, there is still the slight possibility that you may catch anogenital warts so protection is still necessary. It will also not protect you against any other sexually transmitted infections so safe sex is encouraged. It also protects you from the strains that can cause cervical cancer but it cannot protect you from cancer caused by other co factors other than that caused by HPV.

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