The Gardasil vaccine – Well Woman Clinic
The Gardasil vaccine is one of two vaccines that have been approved here in the UK for use against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The name of the other approved vaccine is Cervarix.
HPV is a virus that is transferred during sexual activity. There are more than 100 different types of HPV and they affect both males and females. Most people (80% to 90%) contract HPV at some stage during their lives. Most of the time an infection carries no symptoms and it self-heals. As a result many people who do become infected are never aware of their infection. Unfortunately, what this does mean however is that those infected can nonetheless transmit the virus to their sexual partner(s).
HPV is also sometimes referred to as the “genital warts virus,” this being one of the conditions that it can cause. However, although this condition is unpleasant, certain types of HPV can cause conditions and illnesses of much greater consequence in women, including changes in the cervix that could lead to cervical cancer, and changes in the tissues of the vagina, that could lead to vaginal cancer.
The types of HPV that Gardasil guards against
The Gardasil vaccine has been designed to combat 4 strains of HPV. For girls and young women between the ages of 9 and 26 years old, (after the age of 26, the national cervical smear test screening program clicks in) Gardasil guards against HPV strains 16 and 18.. These two strains of HPV are responsible for approximately 70% of cases of cervical cancer, 70% of cases of vaginal cancer, and as much as 50% of vulvar cancer – a cancer which manifests itself in the area between the vagina and the anus – an area referred to as the perineum. The HPV 16 strain is also responsible for 95% of cases of anal cancer.
The Gardasil vaccine also protects against strains 6 and 11 of HPV. These are strains that cause about 90% of all cases of genital warts, and in this respect Gardasil protects both males and females in the age group 9 to 26 years of age. HPV types 6 and 11 can also cause recurrent respiratory papillomatosis which is a disease whereby benign tumours form in the air passages between the nose, mouth and lungs.
National HPV vaccination program
The Gardasil vaccine is now administered to schoolgirls by the NHS as part of a national vaccination program. It is given to girls in school year 8 (aged between 12 and 13 years-old). The current course of vaccination consists of two injections administered within a 6 to 24 month period. For young girls who began their courses before September 2014, it is necessary to have 3 injections within the same time frame.
Gardasil is considered to be a safe vaccine suitable for the vast majority of young girls and women. Only if you have certain health conditions, or if you have ever suffered an allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, should you proceed with caution. In these instances, before you take the vaccination, you should discuss this with your GP, or one of the clinicians here at Broadgate Clinic London Wall if you are using our women health services.
Gardasil is available free from the NHS for women up to the age of 18.
There is no national Gardasil vaccination program for males
Although the Gardasil vaccine offers protection against genital warts and anal cancer, school boys and young males do not at this point in time have access to the national vaccination program. There is a growing movement to change this, but nothing is in force at present.
If you have never had the Gardasil vaccination
If you are a woman; you missed the Gardasil vaccination at school, and you live and or work here in London, you can have the vaccination administered at Broadgate private Walkin Clinic London Wall. No prior appointment is necessary. You can simply drop into our women heath services clinic at a time to suit your busy working schedule.
Please note that having the Gardasil vaccination does not mean you should cease your regular cervical (smear) tests.