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The Gardasil vaccine protects against infection with HPV, the human papilloma virus. HPV is one of the most common viruses in the world, and is transmitted by close sexual contact. A staggering 80% of New Zealanders are thought to be infected at some point in their lives, and it is most prevalent among young people who have recently become sexually active. Once infected, some people will carry the virus long-term and have the potential to pass it on to future sexual partners. HPV is responsible for not only genital warts, but also a variety of cancers — cervical, anal, vulval, mouth, throat, and penile.
Last year, the Ministry of Health announced it would extend funding for Gardasil up to the age of 27 years, as from January 1, 2017. The vaccine is also now free for males, who previously could only access it at significant cost. The new, improved version of the vaccine that has been brought in also protects against five more strains of HPV than the previous one — incredible news all round.
What you need to know:
- The earlier the vaccine is given, the stronger the immunity — don’t delay getting yours!
- The vaccine is really effective — studies show that completed courses of Gardasil have led to a huge reduction in the prevalence of not only genital warts, but all the cancers mentioned above.
- Benefits are long-lasting — research on the original Gardasil vaccine shows that it still has full immune effect after ten years, and that this effect should last for life.
- Gardasil is safe! Contrary to what you may have read on social media, this is one of the safest, most widely-studied vaccines available. Since its launch, 165 million people have received the vaccine worldwide, and it has an impeccable safety profile.
- If you are already sexually active, there is still benefit in receiving Gardasil.
Student Health are running special Gardasil vaccination clinics this term at Pipitea and Kelburn. Phone 04 4735308 to book an appointment. Put it on your list — it could well be the best thing you do for your health this year!