CERVICAL cancer is the second deadliest cancer among women next to breast cancer. In the official website of the Department of Health, it says that an estimated 7,277 new cases occur annually and about 3,807 of these end up in death.

The primary cause of cervical cancer is the human papilloma virus (HPV) that is transmitted through sexual intercourse. However, there are also special cases wherein females who have yet to have sexual intercourse still had cervical cancer. One reason is that HPV can also be spread by skin to skin genital contact with or without sexual encounter. The HPV infection can affect both males and females. As HPV infection does not have early symptoms, it can develop into cervical cancer later in life.

Only a few people know that even if cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women in the country, this is preventable through HPV vaccine. Below are five things you need to know about HPV Vaccine:

1. HPV Vaccine can be given to girls as young as 9 years old

The Department of Health (DOH) had been guaranteeing the safety and effectiveness of this vaccine and had since been giving it to elementary students for free. As women of all ages are advised to be vaccinated with HPV vaccine, it is the most effective among young children who have yet to have sexual activities. In Davao City, the City Health Office had been giving free HPV vaccine to elementary female students from 9-13 years of age.

2. There are two types of HPV vaccine: Cervarix and Gardasil

Cervarix are vaccines given to prevent cervical cancer HPV types 16 and 18. They are given for three doses at 0, 1, and 6th month. On the other hand, Gardasil had been noted to prevent genital warts, vaginal vulvar, and cervical cancer HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18. They are also given in three doses at 0,2, and the 6th month. A patient can choose whether to avail of the Cervarix or the Gardasil vaccine as they also vary in prices per shot. As males can also have HPV infection, Gardasil is also given to males.

3. Vaccines are readily available in your OB-Gyne's clinic

Whether or not a woman already had her sexual encounter, the DOH encourages everyone to have their HPV vaccine already to decrease the risk of having cervical cancer later in their life. They are lucky if their local health offices offer free HPV vaccines. Otherwise, vaccines can also be taken from a trusted gynecologist's clinic or in authorized pharmacies. Price ranges from P2,000 to P4,000 per shot.

4. Effect of HPV vaccines lasts a lifetime

Even if they may be a little pricey, the effect of the vaccine, once the three shots had been taken, is a lifetime. The DOH and other private health sectors continue to encourage women and young girls to be vaccinated and be safe from the future effects and risks of HPV infection and cervical cancer. They also encourage those who had taken their first shot to strictly follow and take their second and third shots as well.

5. It had been used by DOH for decades now

Filipinos may have second thoughts about vaccines now after the issue with Dengvaxia. However, Dr. Julinda Acost of the City Health Office assured that they have been using HPV vaccine for their medical missions for decades now and they can attest of its safety. Last June 2018 their office used about 13,000 vials of Gerdasil vaccines for free vaccination to elementary students in the city.