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Debunking the myths of the Gardasil 9 vaccine
by TeenHelp August 3rd 2018, 02:37 PM

Debunking the myths of the Gardasil 9 vaccine
By Dez (Melancholia.)

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that is transmitted through anal, vaginal, or oral sex. There are more than 150 different strains of HPV. This condition can be transmitted even when the person affected does not have any symptoms. Symptoms can also take several years to appear. It is so common that almost everyone gets a strain of HPV during their lives. While HPV cannot be cured, and it usually clears up on its own, it can lead to further problems such as genital warts. These are small bumps in the genital region that can be either raised, flat, or cauliflower shaped. Certain strains of HPV can also cause cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, or anus.

The HPV virus is so common that almost everyone contracts a strain of it in their lifetime [Source]. The American Cancer Society states that in the United States alone, HPV causes approximately 31,500 new cases of cancer per year. Since HPV is so common, it is important for someone to do what they can to prevent themselves from developing further complications.

The Gardasil 9 vaccine has been developed to prevent people from developing HPV-related cancer and genital warts. However, some people may be hesitant to receive the vaccine. This article debunks rumors surrounding the vaccine.

What is Gardasil 9?
There are three forms of the vaccine to protect against HPV: Gardasil, Gardasil 9, and Cervarix. Gardasil and Cervarix are no longer used in the United States. The most widely used form of the vaccine, Gardasil 9, was developed to prevent against cancers and genital warts caused by nine strains of the HPV virus. It is important to note that this means the Gardasil 9 shot does not prevent all strains of HPV and anyone who is sexually active should continue to receive regular screenings. However, this vaccine is still a useful tool in prevention.

Like other vaccines, Gardasil 9 is delivered through a shot in the arm. It is recommended to receive the vaccine in adolescence, but it can be given anywhere between the ages of 9 and 26. The average age people receive the vaccine is between 11 and 12. The number of doses received depends on age and the duration between vaccines. For those who are aged 9-14, the vaccine is typically given in two doses that are 6-12 months apart. For people who are aged 15-26, the Gardasil 9 vaccine is given in three shots. The second shot is given two months after the first, and the third shot is given six months after the first [Source].

The Gardasil 9 vaccine can be obtained at a doctor's office or clinic, pharmacy, health department, or family planning clinic such as Planned Parenthood. The cost of the vaccine may vary depending on individual insurance policies.

Myth - Boys do not need to obtain the Gardasil 9 vaccine
When the Gardasil vaccines were first developed they were marketed toward females. However, additional recommendations state that the vaccine is effective in males as well. This is because HPV can also cause cancer in males. In fact, HPV-related cancers such as oral and anal cancer are on the rise in males. 11,000 males get an HPV-related cancer yearly. Unlike cervical cancer, oral or anal cancer do not have screening methods and therefore can remain undetected until a later stage that is harder to treat [Source]. Therefore, it is especially important for males to receive the vaccine.

Myth - The Gardasil 9 vaccine promotes sexual activity
A common reason parents are hesitant to vaccinate their children is because they worry that this will encourage their children to become sexually active. They fear that due to the added protection, their children may no longer be cautious or feel the need to wait to have sex.

However, it is important for the vaccine to be administered before someone becomes sexually active whenever possible. This is because the vaccine will be able to protect them before they are exposed to the condition. It is also more effective if it is given before someone is exposed. The vaccine also causes a stronger immune response in younger people, which is important in being protected against HPV. However, even if someone is sexually active, they can still get the vaccine.

According to the American Cancer Society, studies have shown that simply receiving the HPV vaccine doesn't cause someone to become sexually active earlier than someone who has not gotten the vaccine. Also, even if someone does not have sex until marriage, they can still contract HPV from their spouse [Source].

It is important for children and teens to obtain proper sex education along with the vaccine. This may alleviate some of the concerns parents have about their children and sexual activity.

Myth - The Gardasil 9 vaccine causes dangerous side effects
There are rumors spreading throughout social media that state the Gardasil 9 vaccine puts people at a heightened risk of death or permanent disability. However, these rumors are unfounded.

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), is a vaccine safety monitoring system in the United States. This system allows vaccine manufacturers, medical professionals, and citizens to report any adverse effects related to a vaccine. From June 2009 to December 2017, 80 million doses of Gardasil were given. 36,142 adverse events were reported to VAERS. 93% of events were not serious, while only 7% were listed as serious. 29 million doses of the current vaccine, Gardasil 9, have been administered from December 2014 to December 2017. 7,244 adverse events were listed. 97% of events were not serious, while only 3% were serious [Source].

There are also flaws with the VAERS system. Information reported may be biased or data may be inaccurate or incomplete. The VAERS system also does not offer an unvaccinated control group. Therefore, data from this system does not prove that any adverse event is actually related to the vaccine and did not happen by chance [Source].

Most side effects from all three forms of the vaccine were very mild and include symptoms such as pain, bruising, redness, or swelling. Other symptoms include a mild fever or nausea. These symptoms are similar to any other vaccine offered. Another possible symptom of Gardasil 9 is fainting. Many medical professionals recommend that someone who just received the vaccine sits for ten to fifteen minutes before leaving the office to prevent injuries if they faint.

Before any new vaccine is brought to market, it undergoes clinical trials to ensure safety and effectiveness. These tests last for several years and involve thousands of participants. Any vaccine that is deemed unsafe would not make it to market.

Therefore, someone who receives the Gardasil 9 vaccine is no more at risk of having an adverse event than someone who receives any other vaccine.

Myth - The Gardasil 9 vaccine causes infertility.
Another common myth about the Gardasil 9 vaccine is that it can damage the ovaries in females and lead to premature menopause or infertility.

There are many causes of premature menopause including genetics, medications used to treat cancer, and having another medical condition. There has been no evidence to suggest that the HPV vaccine is a cause of premature menopause.

Clinical trials and studies did not show a higher incidence of premature menopause or lack of a menstrual period in females who obtained the Gardasil 9 vaccine compared to those who did not. Between December 2014 and December 2017, only 3 reports of premature menopause were reported to VAERS. However, these incidents were not reported directly from the source and were considered hearsay. Therefore, not enough evidence could be obtained to prove these claims. Between January 2009 and December 2017, 17 reports of premature menopause were reported in females who obtained the Gardasil vaccine. 15 of these reports were considered hearsay and therefore could not be proven [Source].

It is important for anyone who is interested in the Gardasil 9 vaccine to speak with their healthcare provider to learn more about vaccines and address any concerns they may have. The Gardasil 9 vaccine is safe and effective and adolescents and young adults should consider obtaining the vaccine to prevent against genital warts and cervical cancer.

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