The first vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer was approved by the competent authorities of the European Union for administration to girls and women aged from 9 to 26 years old in 2007.
Which illness does this vaccine protect from?
The vaccine protects women against 75% of human papilloma viruses (HPV), which are responsible for causing cervical cancer. It is estimated that 80% of women, who are sexually active, are likely at some stage in their lives, to get infected by viruses of the HPV family. Globally, every year 300,000 women are affected by cervical cancer. This illness is the second in frequency cause of death of women due to cancer globally. The first in frequency cause is breast cancer.
It has been administered in a wide scale in the European Union in the vaccination program against HPV viruses, it is estimated that 11,250 women will be saved from death every year, and that deaths because of the disease will be reduced up to 75%.
At which age should it be administered?
The vaccine has been approved for girls and women from 9 to 26 years of age. The Greek National Vaccinations Program recommends that it is administered at the age of 11-13 years old.
How is the vaccine administered?
The vaccine in administered intramuscularly in 3 doses during a time period of 6 months.
Does it have side effects?
They are usually mild at the point of the injection. Other side effects may be fever, drowsiness, nausea.
Reports of deaths and severe side effects have not been scientifically proven to be causally associated with the vaccine. Specialists assure that the vaccine is safe.
Does this vaccine replace other precautionary measures?
No. It is important that all other precautionary measures are taken. The use of condoms, the limitation of the number of sexual partners, the avoidance of smoking, and Papanikolaou test are able to drastically reduce the risk of cervical cancer for women.
Discuss your thoughts and concerns in relation to vaccines with your paediatrician.
Stelios Papaventsis Paediatrician MRCPCH DCH IBCLC 2010