When should my child be vaccinated?
The HPV vaccine is recommended for preteen boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 12 so they are protected before ever being exposed to the virus. HPV vaccine also produces a more robust immune response during the preteen years. The vaccine is given in 2 doses. The second dose is given 6 months after the first dose. If the series is not started until age 15 or older, there are 3 doses required. The second dose is given at 1 or 2 months after the first dose, then the third dose is given 6 months after the first dose.
What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that infects the skin, genital area, and lining of the cervix. It is spread during unprotected sex with an infected partner.
There are many different types of papillomaviruses (about 100). Some types of papillomaviruses cause warts on the skin, some types cause warts in the anal and genital areas, and some types cause cancer.
How common is HPV?
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US. HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. Most people never know they have been infected and may give HPV to a partner without knowing it. About 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. About 14 million people are newly infected each year. The virus can be passed from one person to another even if the infected person has no symptoms.
What is the HPV vaccine and how can can it help my family?
Does the HPV vaccine work?
Yes. The HPV vaccine was originally studied in about 30,000 girls and young women between 9 and 26 years of age. Studies determined that the vaccine prevented 9 of 10 HPV infections and was completely effective at preventing persistent infections and Pap smear changes that predict cervical cancer. Subsequent studies showed that HPV vaccine prevented HPV infection, anal and genital warts, and anal cancer in men.
Can the HPV vaccine cause cancer?
No. Because the HPV vaccine is made using only a single protein from each type of the virus, it can’t cause HPV, and, therefore, it can’t cause cervical cancer or other cancers.
Are HPV vaccines safe?
Numerous research studies have been conducted to make sure HPV vaccines were safe both before and after the vaccines were licensed. No serious safety concerns have been confirmed in the large safety studies that have been done since HPV vaccines became available in 2006. All vaccines in the United States are required to go through extensive safety testing before they are licensed by the FDA. Once in use, they are continually monitored for safety and effectiveness.
Like any vaccine or medicine, HPV vaccines can cause side effects. HPV vaccination is typically not associated with any serious side effects. The benefits of HPV vaccination far outweigh any potential risk of side effects.
HPV vaccine side effects
Redness & tenderness
Low grade fever
Fainting, headache & nausea
Will the vaccine cause fertility issues?
No. There are no data that suggest getting HPV vaccine will have an effect on future fertility for men and women, including premature ovarian failure. In fact, getting vaccinated and protecting against cervical cancer can help women have healthy pregnancies and have healthy babies. Not getting the HPV vaccine leaves people vulnerable to HPV infection; for women, this could lead to cervical cancer. The treatment of cervical cancer (hysterectomy, chemotherapy, and/or radiation, for example) could leave a woman unable to have children. Even the treatment of cervical pre-cancers caused by HPV can cause preterm labor or problems at the time of delivery.
Can you get HPV from someone who does not have any symptoms of HPV?
Yes, in fact, most people do not know when they are infected with HPV. So, even if your partner does not have any symptoms of an HPV infection, he or she can still pass the virus to you.
How long does immunity last if you receive all doses of the HPV vaccine?
We do not know for sure whether immunity will last a lifetime; however, the data are reassuring. First, the vaccine has been studied for more than 10 years at this point, and there is not a sign of waning immunity in those who received the vaccine that long ago. Second, the immune responses generated by the vaccine are stronger than those invoked after natural infection. Finally, the hepatitis B vaccine, which uses similar technology, induces a memory response that lasts at least 25 years.
Should boys get the HPV vaccine?
Yes. Boys are recommended to get the HPV vaccine for two reasons:
- To protect themselves from anal and genital warts as well as cancers of the head, neck, anus, and penis
- To reduce transmission of the virus to future sexual partners
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