Stick With One Type of Vaccine

Last Modified: January 18, 2009


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

My international patient was given the first 2 doses of Cervarix in her home country. She is due for her 3rd shot but will not be returning there anytime soon. Can she get her 3rd shot as Gardasil, or does it need to be Cervarix, which is not yet available in the U.S.?


Christina S. Chu, MD, Assistant Professor of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

While both vaccines contain virus-like particles of the L1 protein of HPV 16 and 18, Gardasil also vaccinates against types 6 and 11. The vaccines use different adjuvants (substance added to a vaccine to improve the immune response so that less vaccine is needed), and it is not clear at all that receiving 2 doses of the Cervarix followed by one dose of Gardasil is equivalent to a full 3 doses of the Cervarix vaccine. You may want to contact Glaxo, the makers of Cervarix for suggestions on how to proceed.