HPV Vaccine – Human Papillomavirus

The disease

Genital human papilloma virus (HPV), is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. There are about 40 types of HPV. About 80 million people in the U.S are infected with another 14 million who will get infected each year.

Most HPV infections don’t cause any symptoms and go away on their own. But HPV can cause cervical cancer in women. Cervical cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths among women around the world. HPV can cause several less common types of cancer in both men and women. It can also cause genital warts and warts in the upper respiratory tract. There is no treatment for HPV infection, but the conditions it causes can be treated. Getting the HPV vaccine can help prevent infection.

The vaccine

The human papillomavirus vaccine is an inactivated (killed) vaccine that is given to protect against seven HPV types of the virus that cause 80% of cervical cancers. This vaccine can be given to both females and males.

Women will still need cervical cancer screenings because the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV. Knowing when to get the HPV vaccine is an important part of prevention. The vaccine is routinely recommended for girls and boys 11–12 years old. It may be given as young as 9 years of age through 26 years. There is a HPV vaccine schedule. It is given as a 2 or 3 dose series, depending on which age the first dose was given.

2 dose series: Used when starting series before age 15 years.

  • 1st dose
  • 2nd dose: 6 months after dose 1

3 dose series: Used when starting series at age 15 years or older.

  • 1st dose
  • 2nd dose: 1–2 months after dose 1
  • 3rd dose: 6 months after dose 1

There are some exceptions to these dosing recommendations. Your clinician will discuss those with you as needed.

Side effects

Some mild HPV vaccine side effects can include redness, swelling and pain at the injection site, mild fever, itching at the injection site and moderate fever. These symptoms should not last long and should go away on their own.

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