Gardasil HPV Vaccine (cont.)
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Will the girls/women who have been vaccinated still need cervical cancer screening?
Yes, they will still need to see their healthcare provider for cervical cancer screening. There are three reasons why women will still need regular cervical cancer screening. First, the vaccine will NOT provide protection against all types of HPV that cause cervical cancer, so women will still be at risk for some cancers. Second, some women may not get all required doses of the vaccine (or they may not get them at the right times), so they may not get the vaccine's full benefits. Third, women may also not get the vaccine's full benefits if they have already acquired a vaccine HPV type.
Why is the vaccine only recommended for girls/women ages 9 through 26?
The vaccine has been extensively tested in 9 through 26 year-old females so information is only available about vaccine safety and protection for girls/women of this age group. However, studies on the vaccine are now being done in boys/men, as well as in women older than 26 years of age. The FDA will consider licensing the vaccine for these other groups when there is research to show that it is safe and effective in these groups.
Why is HPV vaccine recommended for girls 11 to 12 years of age?
It is important for girls to get HPV vaccine before they become sexually active. The vaccine is most effective for girls/women who get vaccinated before their first sexual contact. It does not work as well for those who were exposed to the virus before getting the vaccine. However, most women will still benefit from getting the vaccine because they will be protected against other virus types contained in the vaccine.
Should pregnant women be vaccinated?
The vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women. There has only been limited information about vaccine safety among pregnant women and their unborn babies. So far, studies suggest that the vaccine has not caused health problems during pregnancy, nor has it caused health problems for the child. But more research is still needed. For now, pregnant women should wait to complete their pregnancy before getting the vaccine. If a women finds out she is pregnant after she has started getting the vaccine series, she should wait until after her pregnancy is completed to finish the three-dose series.
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