There has been much controversy in the photosphere regarding the HPV vaccine. Some inaccurate comments have been made which could lead those eligible to receive it to decide against it. One of these such comments is, the vaccine will cause you to get HPV. Not only is this untrue, it is impossible based upon the make-up of the vaccine itself.
Most of the vaccines that we are familiar with receiving are developed from the actual causative agent itself. What is received, however, is what is referred to as an attenuated version. This means that the virulence or strength of the agent has been significantly reduced. The body will still evoke an immune response, however the strength is so minimal that actually getting the disease is unlikely.
The HPV vaccine is not made from an attenuated version of HPV. Rather it is developed using what are called capsid proteins coating the virus. The L1 and L2 capsids in particular have been shown to result in a sufficient immune response as to prevent development of the virus itself. The antibodies which are produced by the body to the various strains of HPV are very highly specific to that HPV type.
The first and current vaccine available (Gardasil) which addresses four of the most prominent types of HPV utilize these L1 capsid proteins, referred to as VLP’s or virus-like particles. They protect against two low risk (6 and 11) and two high risk (16 and 18) strains of HPV. Low risk strains result in genital warts. High risk strains have been associated with a variety of genital cancers, as well as a form of oral cancer.
Whether male or female, if you are age 26 or younger (starting at age 9) the HPV vaccine is a potent weapon in what has been deemed the “War on Cancer”.
Financial assistance is also available from Merck Pharmaceuticals for those unable to afford the three shots required in the series. It is also important to know that receiving the vaccine is not precluded if you have already tested positive for HPV and this is clearly stipulated in the product information materials which come with the vaccine.
Reviewed July 27, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle