Vaccine now available to prevent HPV

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- There is good news in the fight against cancer. A vaccine has recently been approved that can significantly decrease the incidence of cervical cancer caused by the Human Papillomavirus. 

What is HPV? 

Genital Human Papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. More than 50 percent of sexually active men and women are infected with HPV at some time in their lives. Most HPV infections do not cause any symptoms and go away on their own, but certain types of the virus are known to cause cervical cancer, genital warts, and other illnesses in women. 

Why is it beneficial to get the HPV vaccine? 

The HPV vaccine protects against four main types of HPV, including the two types that cause about 70 percent of all cervical cancers and the two types that cause about 90 percent of genital warts. If females are vaccinated prior to their first sexual contact, the vaccine can prevent almost all the diseases caused by these four types of HPV. For sexually active females, even if they have been exposed to one or more of the targeted viruses, the vaccine can still offer protection from the other types of HPV. Women who get the vaccine should still schedule regular cervical cancer screenings with a pap smear test since the vaccine does not cover every type of HPV. 

Who should be vaccinated and when? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccination for all females between the ages of 9 and 26 years. The vaccine is administered in a three-dose series, with the second and third doses being given at two and six months after the initial dose. The main side effects of the vaccine are typically mild and are similar to those experienced with other vaccinations. They include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fever, nausea, itching and dizziness. 

How do I request vaccination? 

The vaccine is available by self-request to beneficiaries between the ages of 9 and 26 at the 10th Medical Group Immunization and Pediatric Clinic. 

If you or your child is an eligible department of defense beneficiary, please visit the immunization clinic from 7:30 to 11:00 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays. 

Please note the immunization clinic is closed every Tuesday from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and every Thursday from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. 

For children assigned to the pediatric clinic, walk in immunizations are offered weekdays from 1 to 3 p.m. 

Additional information is available on the CDC Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vaccine/hpv/default.htm.