Dr. Soliman describes the differences between the available human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines and discusses the safety of the vaccines.
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The Types of HPV Vaccines and Their Safety There’s currently two FDA-approved HPV vaccines. The first vaccine Gardasil which is made by Merck was FDA-approved in 2006. The vaccine itself is targeted against four different strains in the HPV. So when you look at the HPV virus there’s really over a hundred different subtypes of the virus. What we know is that HPV 6 and 11 are the most common cause for genital warts and then HPV 16 and 18 are the ones that most commonly are associated with cervical cancer. The Gardasil vaccine actually prevents infection from all four of these strains. So the goal of the vaccine is not only to prevent cancer but also to prevent genital warts. The second vaccine Cervarix was recently FDA-approved last year. That’s made by GlaxoSmithKline. This vaccine is what we call a bivalent vaccine so it really only targets HPV 16 and 18 and the primary goal of this vaccine is really to prevent cervical cancer. Knowing that there’s two available vaccines one thing that I often get asked is “Which one is the best one?” or “Which one is most appropriate for me?” At this time, we don’t really know which one is better. I think the benefit of getting the Gardasil vaccine is it does help decrease your risk for genital warts but Cervarix, based on the studies may actually last a little bit longer in the prevention of cervical cancer. So I think there’s probably benefits to either vaccine and at this point it’s not really clear is one better or does it offer more benefit than the other. Is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine safe? As far as we know in the studies that have been done, which have been done on really thousands of women and boys between the ages of 11 and 26 overall it’s thought to be a very safe vaccine. In the patients that have received the vaccine, probably the most common side effect is just discomfort from the injection itself and there haven’t been any reports of any long-term bad outcomes related to the vaccine as of now.