Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. More than half of sexually active men and women are infected with HPV at some time in their lives. 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 worldwide. In the United States, about 12,000 women get cervical cancer every year. HPV is also associated with several less common cancers, such as vaginal and vulvar cancers in women and other types of cancer in both men and women. It can also cause genital warts and warts in the throat. There is no cure for HPV infection, but some of the problems it causes can be treated.
The HPV vaccine is available for the prevention of the diseases caused by the human papillomavirus. The vaccine can be given to both females and males to prevent HPV infection. This vaccine can prevent most cases of cervical cancer in females, if it is given before exposure to the virus. In addition, it can prevent vaginal and vulvar cancer in females, and genital warts and anal cancer in both males and females. Protection from HPV vaccine is expected to be long-lasting. Vaccination is not a substitute for cervical cancer screening however, and women should still get regular Pap tests.
There are currently three HPV vaccines: GARDASIL, GARDASIL-9, and CERVARIX. Each vaccine offers coverage against a number of HPV types which are associated with various cancers and infections.
Each vaccine is a three-dose series administered over six months. The second and third doses should be given at two and six months (respectively) after the first dose. The HPV vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.
All kids who are 11 or 12 years old should get the three dose series of HPV vaccine. Teen boys and girls who did not get the vaccine when they were younger should get it now. Young women can get HPV vaccine through age 26, and young men can get vaccinated through age 21. The vaccine is also recommended for gay and bisexual young men (or any young man who has sex with men) and also for young men with compromised immune systems (including HIV) through age 26, if they did not get HPV vaccine when they were younger.
For HPV vaccines to be effective, they should be given prior to exposure to HPV. There is no reason to wait until a teen is having sex to offer HPV vaccination to them. Preteens should receive all three doses of the HPV vaccine series long before they begin any type of sexual activity and are exposed to HPV. Also HPV vaccine produces a higher immune response in preteens than it does in older teens and young women.
The vaccine is not recommended for anyone who:
Severe problems (rare) may include serious allergic reactions, with symptoms including:
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help ease pain and reduce fever.
The HPV vaccine is available at:
Healthcare Clinic for patients aged 11-26.
Walgreens Pharmacy. Ages vary by state.
Walk in or schedule an appointment at the location nearest you.
If you believe you have a medical emergency, please call 911.
Call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 800-232-4636 or visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines for more vaccine information.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. Hamborsky J, Kroger A, Wolfe S, eds. 13th ed. Washington D.C. Public Health Foundation, 2015.
Vaccine Information Statement: HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Vaccine-Gardasil® Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). May 17, 2013.
Accessed June 2015.
Vaccine Information Statement: HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Vaccine-Gardasil®-9 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). April 15, 2015.
Accessed June 2015.
Vaccine Information Statement: HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Vaccine-Cervarix® Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
May 3, 2011.
Accessed June 2015.
GARDASIL® [Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16, 18) Vaccine, Recombinant] Suspension for intramuscular injection. US Prescribing Information. Merck & Co., Inc. Whitehouse Station, NJ. April 2015.
GARDASIL® [Human Papillomavirus 9-valent Vaccine, Recombinant] Suspension for Intramuscular injection. US Prescribing Information. Merck & Co., Inc. Whitehouse Station, NJ. February 2015.
CERVARIX® [Human papillomavirus Bivalent (Types 6 and 18) Vaccine, Recombinant] Suspension for Intramuscular injection. US Prescribing Information. GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals. Research Triangle Park, NC.
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Vaccine subject to availability. Age, state, and health related restrictions apply.