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How does Cervarix® work?

The Cervarix® vaccine works by helping your body produce antibodies against the most common HPV types linked to cervical cancer (HPV 16 and 18). Antibodies help destroy viruses like HPV that could lead to disease.

To boost your body's response to Cervarix® leading to long-lasting antibody levels, the vaccine contains something called an adjuvant.

Studies are ongoing to determine the duration of protection. In clinical trials, sustained protection has been observed for up to 8.4 years after the first dose.

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What's an adjuvant?
The word adjuvant comes from a Latin word meaning "to help" or "to enhance" – and that's just what the Cervarix® adjuvant was designed to do. It's a component made from natural compounds that enhances your body's response to Cervarix® by providing stronger and longer protection.

Long-term protection against cervical cancer is important because:

  • Women are at risk for cancer-causing HPV infections throughout their lives.
  • Even if you have been exposed to HPV, your body doesn't develop long-term protection against it. That means, you could be infected again. Each time, there's a risk the virus won't go away and could lead to cervical cancer.

Studies are ongoing to determine the duration of protection. In clinical trials, sustained protection has been observed for up to 8.4 years after the first dose.

How many vaccinations will I need?

Cervarix® is given as a series of 3 vaccinations. It's very important that you get all 3 doses. Why?
Unless you get all 3, you're not as protected as you can be.
Having all 3 doses helps your body get the best possible response from Cervarix®.

Here's how it goes:
Cervarix® vaccination #1: You choose the date
Cervarix® vaccination #2: 1 month after the first dose
Cervarix® vaccination #3: 6 months after the first dose

Need more flexibility to fit your busy lifestyle? Talk to your doctor about timing. You can get the second vaccination from 1 to 2.5 months after the first dose, and the third from 5 to 12 months after the first dose.
Remember, it's important to get all 3 Cervarix® doses.

Who is Cervarix® for?

  • Cervarix® can help prevent you from becoming infected with the HPV types that cause most cases of cervical cancer (HPV 16 and 18).
  • Cervarix® is a vaccine for girls and young women aged 9 to 25.
  • If you're currently infected with one of the two most common high-risk HPV types (HPV 16 or 18), Cervarix® can help protect you against the other type. In addition, if the infection clears, Cervarix® has been shown to provide protection in the event of re-exposure.

NOTE: Cervarix® doesn't treat any HPV-related diseases you may currently have, and won't protect against ones that aren't caused by HPV.
Cervarix® is not for those under 9 or over 25 years of age, or for women who have had an allergic reaction (such as itchy skin rash, shortness of breath and/or swelling of the face or tongue) to it or to any of its ingredients. Ask your doctor for more information on whether Cervarix® would be right for you.

NOTE: If you get pregnant during the course of your vaccinations, tell your healthcare provider. You should wait until after the baby is born to get your next dose. To report any vaccinations given during pregnancy, call 1-800-387-7374.

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What to tell your Doctor before your first dose.

Tell your doctor if you:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding – your doctor will decide if Cervarix® is appropriate for you. It's recommended that you take precautions to avoid pregnancy for 2 months following Cervarix® vaccination.
  • Have a severe infection with a high temperature – you might have to delay your vaccination until you're better. A minor infection such as a cold shouldn't be a problem, but talk to your doctor first.
  • Have a bleeding problem or bruise easily.

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In addition, tell your doctor about all other medicines you are taking or have recently taken, including non-prescription medicines and other vaccines.

Remember:

  • If you take certain medicines that suppress the immune system, Cervarix® may not have the full effect. Ask your doctor if you're unsure.
  • The protective effect of Cervarix® was not affected by oral contraceptives (e.g. the Pill) in clinical studies.
  • If you're getting Cervarix® as well as another vaccine, they should be administered at different injection sites with separate syringes.

Safety information.

Cervarix® is not infectious, so it can't cause HPV-related diseases. However, like all medicines, Cervarix® may cause side effects, although not everyone is affected. You may experience some pain, discomfort, redness or swelling at the injection site. These usually clear up within a few days.

Other potential side effects: Very common (may occur with more than 1 in 10 doses): Headache, aching muscles, muscle tenderness or weakness not caused by exercise, and fatigue. Common (may occur with up to 1 in 10 doses): Gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, itching, red skin rash, hives, joint pain, and fever (≥38°C). Uncommon (may occur with up to 1 in 100 doses): Upper respiratory tract infection, dizziness, other injection site reactions such as hard lump, tingling or numbness, and swollen glands in the neck, armpit or groin. Rare (may occur with up to 1 in 1,000 doses): allergic reaction, and fainting sometimes accompanied by shaking or stiffness.

Your doctor may ask you to stay behind for a short time after receiving the vaccine.

If you have any unexpected effects while taking Cervarix®, please talk to your doctor.

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Health plan coverage for Cervarix®.

If you're Doctor thinks Cervarix® is right for you and you're planning on getting the Cervarix® vaccine, you may want to find out whether you have medical coverage through your health plan. This may be provided through your employer's Drug Benefits Plan, your parents' health insurance plan, or your university/college health plan.

Are you a university student?

  • Over half of university health plans cover vaccines.

NOTE: Deductibles and co-pays vary among health plans.

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Finding out about your coverage

You can find out about your coverage for Cervarix® in two main ways:

  1. Call the phone number on your medical benefits card, or check the insurance company's website. By doing so, you can learn more about the level of coverage provided and whether there are any restrictions. You can also ask the Benefit Plan Administrator at your workplace or school.
  2. Visit drugcoverage.org. On this site, you'll be asked to enter the Drug Identification Number (DIN) for Cervarix®:
    Cervarix® DIN: 02342227

If Cervarix® is not covered under your plan, you can:

  • Call the Plan Administrator at your school or workplace to request that Cervarix® be included.
  • Ask your doctor if you are eligible to submit a Special Authorization Form. For more details, visit drugcoverage.org.
  • Use the Health Spending Account (if applicable). Some employers offer Health Spending Accounts that include reimbursement for vaccines. See your Benefit Plan Administrator for more information.

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