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About the HPV Vaccine

Gardasil HPV Vaccine

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a group of more than 150 related viruses, forty of which that can infect the genital areas of male and female humans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the very common virus currently infects nearly 80 million individuals, or one in four, in the United States. The virus is transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact including vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected partner even when the infected person has no signs or symptoms. The most common sexually transmitted infection (STI), HPV most commonly spreads through vaginal and anal sex. The virus infects about 14 million individuals including teenagers each year. Anyone sexually active is at risk for HPV infection.

Although most HPV infections clear up without treatment, some HPV infections persist and can cause changes in the cells in the infected area, which can cause genital warts or cancer. Different types of HPV cause cancer and genital warts. HPV can cause cancers of the vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, anus, and back of the throat including the base of the tongue and tonsils (oropharynx). HPV-related cancers affect over 27,000 women and men each year, or a new case every 20 minutes. Cervical cancer is the most common HPV cancer, and almost all cervical cancer is cause by HPV. Of the other cancers related to the virus, 69 percent of vulvar cancers, 75 percent of vaginal cancers, 63 percent of penile cancers, 91 percent of anal cancers, and 72 percent of oral cancers are linked to HPV. Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after infection with HPV.

The HPV Vaccine

HPV infection is preventable with the HPV vaccine. The CDC currently recommends vaccination against HPV for preteen boys and girls at age 11 or 12. HPV vaccine produces a more robust immune response during the preteen years and provides protection against the virus before exposure. Young women can receive the HPV vaccine through age 26 and young men through age 21. Men who have sex with men and men with compromised immune systems (including HIV) should also receive the HPV vaccine through age 26.

Three FDA-approved vaccines that protect against HPV currently exist: Cervarix, Gardasil, Gardasil-9. Cervarix is a bivalent vaccine, protecting against two types of HPV. Gardasil is a quadrivalent vaccine, protecting against four types of HPV. The most recent HPV vaccine, Gardasil-9, protects against nine strains of HPV. The CDC recommends that the HPV vaccine be given as a series of three shots over six months with the second and third doses given at one to two months and six months after the first dose.

HPV Vaccine Complications

As with all vaccines, minor reactions to the HPV vaccine include pain (9 in 10) and redness (1 in 3) at the injection site, headache, mild (1 in 10) or moderate (1 in 65) fever, and headache (1 in 3). The minor side effects of the vaccine generally do not require medical attention. Any medication including vaccines can cause a severe allergic reaction, but such reactions from the HPV vaccine are very rare, estimated at fewer than one in a million doses. Many studies have concluded the HPV safe and effective in protecting against human papillomavirus. Gardasil 9 was studied in clinical trials with more than 15,000 females and males; Gardasil was studied in clinical trials with more than 29,000 females and males, and Cervarix was studied in trials with more than 30,000 females. The benefits of HPV vaccination far outweigh any potential risk of side effects.

3 Things Parents Need to Know About Preventing Cancers Infographic

HPV Cancer Prevention Infographic


HPV Vaccines: Vaccinating Your Preteen or Teen:
HPV Vaccine Safety:
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Gardasil®-9 VIS:
Human Papillomavirus (HPV):
The Link Between HPV and Cancer:
What Is HPV:

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Gardasil HPV Vaccine:
3 Things Parents Need to Know About Preventing Cancers Infographic:
HPV Cancer Prevention Infographic:

  • sharyonda

    HPV has been a concern of mine since I started going to my OB/GYN at 22 yrs. Wish I had the opportunity to take the vaccination back then 20+ yrs ago. Glad you are writing about it and keeping it in the forefront of females and parents minds.

    • Thank you for the positive feedback! Vaccines are very important to me, especially the HPV vaccine, which is still so unnecessarily controversial.

  • PennyPincherJenny

    I think its great they are working towards vaccines for this now. I hope they are able to come up with more vaccines for other diseases!

  • Eileen Mendoza Loya

    The company I work for provides an option for employees to avail of the HPV vaccine at a reduced cost. They subsidize part of the cost of the vaccine which is great. Thank you for raising awareness.

  • Jeanine @

    HPV is something I’m glad to see a vaccine for. I don’t know too much about it, but I have 2 little girls so I’ll be having a lot of research to do! This info was very helpful.

  • It’s good to know that there is a vaccine for this. I will have to take note of this. I want this for the twins when they turn 11.

  • Michele

    I had no idea there was a vaccine for at least some of these viruses. I had no idea that these viruses actually can cause cancer–wonder when they figured this out.

  • My 12 year old son just got the Gardasil vaccine and I’m happy to be able to take advantage of modern medical advances. I think it’s important to protect my kids from whatever I can.

  • Ickle Pickle

    This sounds so good – I wonder if it available in the UK? My 16 yo daughter had a vaccination but I think it was for a type of cervical cancer. Kaz

  • Babita

    I have a teenager, but I have not vaccinated her against this. I am just not comfortable at this point, so decided against it for now.

  • Rosa-Maria Rumbold

    I found this informative. i have no children and do not have to make this decision.

  • Lola

    Both my daughter and my son will get the HPV vaccine when they get old enough. I am very excited about the new Gardasil that protects against more strains.

  • Amber Ludwig

    The only thing Im beginning to be worried about is they are linking this vaccine to early ovarian failure. Thats a little worrisome!! I got the vaccine and had no issues, I’ll be interested to see the long term side effects they see when my kiddo is old enough!

    • Via

      Can HPV vaccines damage women’s ovaries?

      CDC and FDA have not found evidence that Gardasil causes premature ovarian failure (a condition in which a woman’s ovaries stop functioning before age 40). In fact, many different things can cause premature ovarian failure: it can be genetic; caused by chemicals in the environment, cancer treatments, or cigarettes; or caused by an autoimmune disorder or a viral infection. However, in many cases it’s impossible to determine the cause.

      From June 2006 through September 2015, when about 80 million doses of Gardasil had been given out in the United States, VAERS received 16 reports of premature ovarian failure or premature menopause following receipt of the Gardasil vaccine in the United States. VAERS also received an additional 10 reports of related conditions (ovarian disorder or ovarian failure) after Gardasil vaccination. When adverse events happen after vaccination, it does not necessarily mean they are caused by that vaccination. Because there were no patterns among these reports, and since studies have not found ovarian failure to be associated with HPV vaccination, there is no evidence that Gardasil caused the ovarian failure.

      Before Gardasil was licensed, its safety was extensively studied in clinical trials. These studies found no difference in amenorrhea (when a woman of reproductive age doesn’t have a period) between women who got Gardasil compared to women who received a placebo (a shot with no medicine in it). Premature ovarian failure was not found to happen among women in the Gardasil clinical trials.

  • Diana Creelman

    We are so fortunate to have the vaccines that we do in North America.

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