VAXBaby 50: The HPV/Gardasil Vaccine

If you have a daughter, she will likely be recommended a vaccine for HPV when she turns 11 or 12. HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus. There are around 200 strains of HPV at last count. It’s a common virus that is spread almost exclusively through sexual contact. It can occasionally be passed from mother to child as well as from surgical instruments. Other risk factors for cancer like having a baby in your teens and smoking.

The reason a vaccine was developed for HPV is because some of these strains are associated with cervical cancer. There are other types of cancer that occasionally show up, as well as what are called genital warts, but the real target is cervical cancer. If you get an infection from any of the 200 strains of HPV, you won’t even know you have it—it doesn’t create a fever or rash, and the infections resolve themselves in 90-95% of people. The most common symptom, warts, come from two HPV strains.