The cervical cancer vaccine is extremely important because it safeguards against cervical cancer, the second most common form of cancer for young women between 15 and 44 years of age. All sexually active women are at risk of cervical cancer which is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) of which there are over 100 different types.
Vaccination guards you against the most common cancer causing types of HPV; HPV 16 and HPV 18 which are responsible for 70% of cervical cancer cases. The vaccine works by stimulating your immune system to provide additional protection against infection without the need to experience the disease or its symptoms.
Is the cervical cancer vaccine for me?
Cervical cancer is a common virus which 8 out of 10 women will come into contact with at some point in their lives. So if you've ever had a sexual relationship you could be at risk whatever your age. You can take control of health by having the cervical cancer vaccine and going for regular smear tests. It's the best defence against cervical cancer you can give yourself.
Females from 12 years of age and upwards can receive the cervical cancer vaccine; being vaccinated at a young age can give a girl the best chance at reducing the risks in the future.
So just how good is the cervical cancer vaccine?
The cervical cancer vaccine has a 99% success rate against the HPV 16 and HPV 18 types of the virus. As these are responsible for 70% of cervical cancer cases, screening is still absolutely vital for early detection and in safeguarding against the other 30%.
Why get vaccinated so young?
Being vaccinated at a young age allows a girl's immune system to be set in motion long before she's becomes sexually active and likely to encounter HPV. It works best here as it allows for the highest antibody levels, the greater the antibody levels the greater the protection. Since antibody levels fall once you stop getting a vaccine, it makes sense to start with high levels to get the greatest protection for the longest time - years, decades even.
In saying this, although HPV is common among sexually active women, most haven't had all the types covered by the vaccine, which means that it's not too late to avail of this added protection.
Finding the right words
The cervical cancer vaccine is available for females aged 12 and upwards. We know that it may be difficult to find the right words when speaking to your daughter about cervical cancer at the young age of 12. It's vital to remember that this benefit isn't about the now, but the future and protecting your daughter as she goes through her 20s and on.
Does having the cervical cancer vaccine hurt?
Well not really! The cervical vaccine involves a series of 3 injections over a 6 month period. Some may experience side effects such as redness or swelling or mild pain where they receive the injection but this only lasts for a short period of time. Those getting the injection will have one at 0, 1 and 6 month intervals.
I'm interested. So what do I do?
We believe prevention is better than cure and that's why we've arranged with Point Of Care Health Services to provide Cervical Cancer Vaccinations to Irish Life Health members at a discounted rate.
You can make an appointment for a course of treatment at any of the Point Of Care centres nationwide by calling 1890 304 305.
The vaccine is given in 3 doses at 0, 1 and 6 month intervals. At the first appointment the two follow up appointments will be booked. Irish Life Health members can pay up front or in instalments.
There are no waiting periods so you can book in as soon as you join. Call 1890 304 305 to make an appointment at any of the Point of Care centres nationwide. The vaccination is available at 6 Point of Care centres in Dublin as well as in Cork, Kildare, Waterford and Galway