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Today I received my third and final shot of Gardasil, the HPV vaccine.
A few weeks shy of my 23rd birthday, I am part of the first generation of women to receive this vaccine.
I have to be honest: as far as shots go, it's pretty vile. It hurt more than my tattoos did (of course, to be fair, the tattoos took much, much longer). However, (probably) being protected from four strains of HPV- the four that cause the majority of cervical cancer and genital warts- is worth it.
I say probably protected because I have been sexually active for several years: while I have practiced safer sex, there is no guarantee that I am HPV-free. However, it's highly unlikely that I have all four of the strains that the vaccine can protect against.
Today also happens to be about a month or so after discovering that one of my friends- an intelligent, funny, and all-around-wonderful woman- has cervical cancer. If she was ten years younger, she could have gotten the vaccine that likely would have helped to prevent this. My heart goes out to her.
I personally urge young women to consider getting this vaccine, and for parents to consider it for their daughters (and, hopefully one day, sons). We have a vaccine against cancer- and it's not a second too soon.
For more information, take a look at The HPV Vaccine FAQ.