The Cervical Cancer Vaccine

How is the vaccine given?

The cervical cancer vaccine is given in a series of three injections over six months.

Is the vaccine safe?

Yes. The vaccine has been tested among thousands of individuals in the United States and other countries. The vaccine has been received by millions of Americans and is approved in 70 countries worldwide. There’s preliminary evidence that the vaccine may also prevent head and neck cancers.

Are there any side effects?

Most patients do not experience side effects. In some cases, the vaccine can cause minor pain, swelling, itching and redness at the injection site. It also can cause fever, nausea, dizziness or syncope, which is fainting caused by holding one’s breath.

For how long does the vaccine provide immunity to HPV?

Because the vaccine is new, how many years the immunity lasts is still unknown. Preliminary studies indicate that the vaccine will last at least five years.

In what situations should the vaccine be avoided?

It’s not recommended for pregnant women because it has yet to be studied in a large population consisting solely of pregnant women.

Does the vaccine make Pap tests unnecessary?

No. While the vaccine protects against HPV types that cause most cases of cervical cancer, it does not protect against all types. Therefore, women should have Pap tests whether they have received the vaccine or not.

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