HPV vaccine

The HPV vaccine protects against infection by certain strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV can cause cervical cancer and genital warts.

Information

HPV is a common virus that is spread through sexual contact. There are many different types of HPV. Many types do not cause problems. But certain types of HPV can lead to:

  • Cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancer in women
  • Genital warts in men and women
  • Cancer of the penis or anus in men

Two vaccines called HPV2 (Cervarix) and HPV4 (Gardasil) are approved:

  • Both vaccines protect against the two types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer. Other, less common types of HPV can still cause cervical cancer.
  • HPV4 (Gardasil) also protects against two other types of HPV that cause most cases of genital warts in women and men.

These vaccines do not treat cervical cancer.

WHO SHOULD GET THIS VACCINE

HPV4 (Gardasil) is approved for:

  • Females ages 9 to 26 to protect against cervical cancer and to prevent genital warts
  • Males ages 9 to 26 to prevent genital warts

HPV2 (Cervarix) is approved for:

  • Females age 10 to 26 to help protect against cervical cancer

Girls ages 11 and 12 should receive the HPV vaccine series:

  • The vaccine is given in three shots over a 6-month period. The second and third shots are given 2 and 6 months after the first shot.
  • One brand of vaccine can be substituted for another in the 3-dose series. The HPV vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines.
  • Girls as young as age 9 can receive the vaccine if their doctor recommends it.

Girls and women ages 13 to 26:

  • Those who have not received the HPV vaccine in the past should get a series of three shots.
  • Those who have not completed the full vaccine series should catch up on missed shots.

Boys ages 11 to 12 should receive the HPV4 (Gardasil) vaccine series:

  • To reduce the chance of becoming infected with genital and anal warts. The vaccine also reduces the risk of cancer of the penis and anus.
  • The vaccine is given in three shots over a 6-month period. The second and third shots are given 2 and 6 months after the first shot.
  • Boys as young as age 9 can receive the vaccine if their doctor recommends it.

Boys and men ages 13 to 21:

  • Those who have not received the vaccine in the past should get a series of three shots.
  • Those who have not completed the full vaccine series should catch up on missed shots.

Men ages 22 to 26:

  • Those who have not received the vaccine in the past may still get the series of three shots. Talk to your health care provider.
  • Those who have not finished the full vaccine series may catch up on missed shots. Talk to your health care provider.
  • You should get the vaccine if you have sex with men.
  • You should get the vaccine if your immune system is weak due to HIV, other conditions, or medication.

Pregnant women should not receive this vaccine. But there have been no problems found in women who received the vaccine during pregnancy, before they knew they were pregnant.

SIDE EFFECTS

The most common side effects are fainting, dizziness, nausea, headache, and skin reactions at the site where the shot was given.

WHAT ELSE TO THINK ABOUT

The HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that lead to cervical cancer. Girls and women should still receive regular screening (Pap smear) to look for early signs of cervical cancer.

The HPV vaccine does not protect against other infections that can be spread during sexual contact.

CALL YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IF

  • You are not sure whether you or your child should receive the HPV vaccine
  • You or your child develops complications or severe symptoms after getting an HPV vaccine
  • You have other questions or concerns about the HPV vaccine

References

American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Infectious Diseases. Policy Statement: HPV vaccine recommendations. Pediatrics. 2012. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-3865.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Recommended Immunization Schedules for Persons Aged 0 Through 18 Years and Adults Aged 19 Years and Older — United States, 2013. MMWR. 2013;62(Suppl1):1-19.

Kahn JA. HPV vaccination for the prevention of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. N Engl J Med. 2009;361:271-278.

Slade BA, Leidel L, Vellozzi C, Woo EJ, Hua W, Sutherland A, et al. Postlicensure safety surveillance for quadrivalent human papillomavirus recombinant vaccine. JAMA. 2009 Aug 19;302(7):750-757.

Review Date: 2/8/2013
Reviewed By: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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