Q: I have two daughters, aged 17 and 23. I would like them to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV). What are the advantages of getting this injection for girls their age and what are the risks?
Also, where should we go to get the injections and how much would it cost?
A: Having both girls undergo the HPV vaccination is a good way to help ward off the risks of developing cervical cancer later.
HPV infection is very common in both men and women and can be transmitted through sexual intercourse.
The virus may then cause changes in the cervical cells and lead to cervical cancer.
There are many different sub-types of HPV.
Of these, some have a higher risk of causing cervical cancer while others may cause genital warts.
There are two types of HPV vaccines available - Cervarix and Gardasil.
Both are designed to prevent infections by HPV types 16 and 18 which cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers. They are administered over a course of three injections.
In addition, Gardasil provides protection against HPV types 6 and 11 which cause 90 per cent of genital warts.
The vaccines are approved for use in girls from the age of nine.
As with all vaccines, the HPV vaccine is effective before there is any infection.
Therefore, the maximum benefit of vaccination occurs when the vaccines are given before the start of sexual activity.