"It is exciting to think that there is now a vaccine in use that should result in a dramatic impact on preventing cervical cancer. And still more exciting to think that the vaccine was developed right here in Australia by Professor Ian Frazer. So often when we talk about cancer it is in the context of treatment or the hope of a cure. It is wonderful to know that young girls will no longer have the same threat of this awful disease in the future. Bupa strongly advocates that parents ensure their daughters have access to the free cervical cancer vaccination program." Dr Christine Bennett, Chief Medical Officer.
Based on technology developed in Australia by a team led by former Australian of the Year, Professor Ian Frazer, Gardasil vaccine prevents infection from HPV strains 16 and 18 in 90-100% of cases if individuals are vaccinated before they are infected.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Australia's regulatory agency for assuring that medical drugs and devices are safe and clinically effective, approved Gardasil on 16 June 2006 for females aged 9-26 and males aged 9-15 years. 1
Gardasil provides protection from 4 strains of HPV including types 16 and 18. Gardasil also provides protection from types 6 and 11 that cause 90% of genital warts and 10% of low grade cervical abnormalities. 3
The HPV vaccine only provides protection from HPV types which cause 20% of cervical cancer so is not a substitute for regular Pap smears. Women who have never had sex still need to have two yearly Pap smears. All women should still practice safe sex.
In October, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that research on Gardasil showed there was no evidence of significant risk related to the product's use.
Another recent study showed that after more than 380,000 doses of the vaccine had been administered to young women between the ages of 12 and 26 as part of an Australian national immunisation programme, found just three of 25 girls that reported hypersensitivity had probable hypersensitivity to Gardasil.
The authors concluded that this reaction was uncommon but "Our clinical recommendation is that females with suspected hypersensitivity to the quadrivalent ((Types 6, 11, 16 and 18) vaccine should be evaluated before receiving more doses, and any challenges with the same vaccine should be carried out in a supervised setting."
Overall this is a very positive endorsement of the safety of the vaccine and of the program.
For further information go to www.australia.gov.au/
Last published: 30 July 2011
This information has been developed and reviewed for Bupa Australia by health professionals and to the best of their knowledge is current and based on reputable sources of medical research. It should be used as a guide only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice. Bupa Australia Pty Ltd makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the recommendations or assessments and is not liable for any loss or damage you suffer arising out of the use of or reliance on the information, except that which cannot be excluded by law. We recommend that you consult your doctor or other qualified health professional if you have questions or concerns about your health. For more details on how we produce our health content, visit the About our health information page.