Cervical Cancer Vaccine Announced

As a follow up to my last blog I thought it would be a great idea to talk about the new updated Cervical Cancer Vaccine that will be made available next year. It was announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball that a new and improved version of the existing Cervical Cancer vaccine will be made available free to all 12 and 13 year olds, both boys and girls.

This is fantastic news! Cervical Cancer is the 10th biggest killer of Australian Women and these preventative measures are to be welcomed.

Australia was one of the first countries to roll out a national cervical cancer immunisation campaign using Gardasil. Gardasil is a vaccine that protects young women from the strains of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that cause 70% of cervical cancers.

HPV is a common virus that affects both males and females, which is passed from person to person through sexual contact. HPV can stay in the body for years, causing changes to cells that can lead to a wide range of HPV-related cancers.

HPV can cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, some head and neck cancers, and genital warts.

Types 16 and 18 cause up to 80 per cent of cervical cancer in females and 90 per cent of HPV-related cancers in males. Types 6 and 11 cause approximately 95 per cent of genital warts. The current Gardasil vaccine provides protection against these 4 types of HPV.

Yes, that’s right, it also helps protect against genital warts!

The new vaccine is being referred to as a GAME CHANGER. It could help protect against 93% of HPV strains. The current vaccine protects against 2 types of cancer causing HPV, HPV type 16 and 18. Type 16 and 18 account for 70% of cervical cancers. The new vaccine will protect against 9 types according to Suzanne Garland from the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. Professor Garland is a regular advisor to the World Health Organisation on sexual and reproductive health infections, cervical cancer and Human Papillomavirus (HPV). So this means an additional 5 types of HPV, which means an extra 23% protection! Dr. Garland has also said that with the new vaccine only 2 doses, as opposed to the existing 3, will be needed.

Being Irish, I was very annoyed by the recent controversial comments made by Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan in Ireland. His opinion was that young people receiving the vaccine would be encouraged to be promiscuous as a result. This in my opinion was just a flippant, poorly thought out, ridiculous statement! He has now apologised for his remarks on the Gardasil vaccine and accepts that it helps prevent surgical cancer.

There is a lot of incorrect misinformation surrounding vaccines in the media and sometimes coming from prominent societal figures. Please speak with your General Practitioner for more information about the Gardasil vaccines or any other vaccine if you have concerns.

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