Information about the HPV vaccine
In 2006, an HPV vaccine was licensed by the Food and Drug Administration, becoming the first licensed vaccine developed to prevent cervical cancer and other diseases in females caused by genital HPV infection. The vaccine, known as Gardasil, protects against four HPV types (6, 11, 16, 18) that are responsible for 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts. The vaccine is administered through a series of three intramuscular injections over a six-month period (at 0, 2, and 6 months).
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that the vaccine should be administered to 11 to 12 year old girls. Ideally the vaccine should be administered before onset of sexual activity. However, females who are sexually active also may benefit from vaccination. Females who already have been infected with one or more HPV types would only get protection from the HPV types that they have not yet acquired.
The vaccine has been shown to be safe in studies, with participants reporting few side effects. The most common side effect was a brief soreness at the site of injection. The vaccine does not contain the virus. It contains only inactive particles from part of the virus, so the vaccine will not infect patients. Also, the vaccine does not contain any preservatives or antibiotics.