Health Services offers the vaccine (Gardasil) that helps protect against 4 major types of HPV(human papillomavirus). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States and is spread through direct skin to skin contact during sexual intercourse. Most HPV infections don't cause any symptoms and go away on their own in 1-2 years. However, HPV is important because it can cause cervical cancer in women; cervical cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths among women around the world. HPV is also associated with several less common types of cancer in both men and women and can also cause genital warts. Recent estimates are that 75% of sexually active men and women are infected with HPV at some time in their lives.
Gardasil is an inactivated (not live) vaccine which protects against 4 major types of HPV. These include 2 types that cause about 70% of cervical cancer cases and 2 types that cause about 90% of cases of genital warts. HPV vaccine can prevent most genital warts and most cases of cervical cancer. Protection conferred by the vaccine is expected to be long-lasting. However, vaccinated women sill need cervical cancer screening because the vaccine does not protect against all HPV types that cause cervical cancer and doesn't protect against other sexually transmitted infections.
Gardasil is currently recommended for girls and women, and boys and men between the ages of 9-26 years. It is given as a 3-dose series:
- 1st Dose: at first appointment
- 2nd Dose: 2 months after Dose 1
- 3rd Dose: 6 months after Dose 1
Each vaccination injection confers approximately 33% of immunity from the HPV virus, so it is not until you receive the full series that you are adequately protected.
Anyone who has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to yeast, to any other component of HPV vaccine, or to a previous dose of HPV vaccine should not get the vaccine. Females who are mildly ill when the shot is scheduled can still get the HPV vaccine. Those with moderate or severe illness should wait until they recover.
HPV vaccine does not appear to cause any serious side effects. However, a vaccine, like any medicine, could possibly cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of any vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small. Signs and symptoms to look for can be any unusual condition, such as high fever or behavior changes. Signs of a serious allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heart beat, or dizziness. If any serious side effects were to occur, it would be within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination. If any serious side effects develop, either return to Health Services or go to the Emergency Room.
Several mild problems may occur with HPV vaccine including pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, mild fever (100 degrees), itching at the injection site, or moderate fever (102 degrees). These symptoms do not last long and will go away on their own.
At Health Services, the cost for Gardasil is $150.00 per dose ($450.00 for the complete 3 shot series). This cost may be paid by billing one's student account, using a Skidmore debit card, or paying cash at the time of visit. Receipts will be provided upon request to submit to the student's private health insurance for reimbursement. More and more insurances are starting to cover the cost of the vaccine. No appointment is necessary to receive Gardasil at Health Services. If a student has received the vaccine from another health care provider, we ask that a copy of that immunization record be provided before subsequent doses are administered in Health Services. It is important to note that at this point in time, the vaccine is only approved for administration to females in the United States, although clinical trials are being conducted in males.