Human Papillomavirus Vaccination
HPV vaccination protects against some of the most common
types of human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 40 types of HPV.
Most HPV infections eventually go away without treatment.
However, infection can cause a number of health conditions including:
HPV is spread through intimate, skin-to-skin contact. Many
people with HPV have no symptoms. Therefore, they are unaware they are infected.
They can easily pass the virus on to their sexual partners. Practicing safer
sex reduces, but does not eliminate, this risk.
It’s important to know that vaccination does NOT prevent all
cases of cervical cancer. Women who are vaccinated still need to receive
regular Pap smears.
There are currently two HPV vaccines licensed in the United
States. Both are given in three doses.
licensed for use in both women and men aged 9 to 26. It protects against four
types of HPV. This includes the two most common cancer-causing types. It also
includes the two types that cause most cases of genital warts.
is licensed only for use in women. It protects against the two types of HPV
that cause most cases of cervical cancer. It does not protect against
Vaccination is usually recommended at age 11 or 12. Ideally,
teens should be vaccinated before they become sexually active.
Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?
Certain types of people should not get vaccinated for HPV.
who had a severe reaction to an earlier HPV vaccine dose
who is currently moderately
to severely ill
If you have been sexually active for many years, HPV
vaccination may not be helpful. There is a good chance you have already been
exposed to the virus. However, vaccination will not cause harm in this
Potential Side Effects
The risk of severe reactions to the HPV vaccine is extremely
low. However, many people have milder side effects, including:
vomiting, or diarrhea
or joint pain
In general, teenagers are more likely to faint after
vaccination. Therefore, they should remain sitting or lying down for at least
15 minutes after getting a shot. This reduces the risk of a fall or injury.