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With schools closed for much of last year, it’s not just essential education that the younger generation have missed out on, but vital vaccines too. Prior to the pandemic, all young people were being offered the HPV vaccine during their S1 year. However, due to the coronavirus restrictions, many pupils missed out on their scheduled immunisation and are still yet to receive it.
For any parents anxious to ensure their child gets the protection they need, YourGP offers the vaccine at our Edinburgh practice, with short notice appointments available. What’s more, the Gardasil 9 vaccine we offer goes one step further in providing protection against HPV compared to the Gardasil 4 vaccine offered in schools. Read on to find out how…
What is HPV?
HPV, or the Human Papilloma Virus, is the most common viral STI in the UK. In fact, the majority of sexually active individuals will have contracted the HPV infection at some point in their lives.
How is it transmitted?
HPV is transmitted by sexual activity, including vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Condoms can reduce the risk of transmission, however it is important to remember that it does not fully protect against it.
What are the symptoms?
For many people, there are no symptoms at all and the infection itself is cleared naturally by the individual’s immune system without them ever knowing they had it. For others, however, it can manifest itself as genital warts, which although harmless, some may prefer to have removed.
Are there any serious problems associated with HPV?
There are over 100 strains of HPV – around 40 of which affect the genital regions. HPV types 16 and 18 cause 70% of cervical cancers, and high-risk HPV infection has also been directly linked to cancers of the vagina, vulva, penis, mouth, and throat.
How can HPV lead to cervical cancer?
HPV can cause changes in the cells of the cervix which can be picked up during a routine smear test. Around 1 in 100 women will have precancerous changes highlighted in a cervical smear, which will require further treatment. If left untreated for many years, there is a chance that the precancerous cells can turn cancerous.
Why are smear tests so important?
The standard smear test has changed in recent years. Whereas previously it would detect any precancerous changes to the cervix, we now test for the presence of HPV first. If HPV is detected, the next stage is to test for abnormal or precancerous cells.
How can I protect my child?
The best way to protect your high school aged child from HPV is through vaccination. As life returns to normality after covid, the school vaccination programme will resume issuing the standard Gardasil 4 vaccine. YourGP, however, now offers Gardasil 9 vaccine – providing even greater protection.
What makes Gardasil 9 a better choice?
Whereas Gardasil 4 provides protection against four HPV sub-types, Gardasil 9 protects against nine sub-types, including seven high risk strains.
Who can receive the Gardasil 9 vaccine?
The Gardasil 9 vaccine can be given to both males and females aged 9-27. It works best when given before they have contracted HPV, therefore before they have become sexually active. 2-3 doses are required, dependent on age.
What are the most common side effects of the Gardasil 9 vaccine?
Common side effects include headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, redness and swelling at the injection site, muscle pain, and fever.
How can I book a vaccine at YourGP?
To discuss HPV or the Gardasil 9 vaccine in more detail with a healthcare expert at YourGP, or to book a vaccine appointment, email our reception team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0131 225 5656.
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