HPV Vaccine: 101

August is the National Immunization Awareness month; so in the spirit of awareness, let’s explore the benefits of immunizing against genital human papillomavirus, also called HPV.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection with approximately 20 million people currently being infected. Although in most cases of HPV there are no health problems, sometimes HPV can cause genital warts or cervical, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and head and neck cancers. Therefore, to lower the risk of these health problems, it is recommended that people get vaccinated.

Some key points about being immunized against HPV are:

  • There are 2 types of vaccines, called Cervarix and Gardasil
  • Both vaccines prevent cervical cancer in women
  • Only Gardasil also protects against genital warts
  • The vaccines do not treat or get rid of an existing HPV infection
  • Both vaccines are given in a series of 3 shots and a person must get all 3 shots in order to be protected
  • Only Gardasil has been licensed for use in males
  • It is recommended that males and females between the ages of 9 and 26 get vaccinated
  • Common side effects include: pain where the shot was given, fever, headache, and nausea
  • Insurance plans vary, so check with your insurance provider to see if it is covered
  • For those that do not have insurance or their insurance does not cover the vaccination, there may be funds and programs that can help. Visit this link to find out who to contact in your state about vaccination assistance.

Many Planned Parenthood’s offer the HPV vaccine. To find a center nearest you and the services it offers, visit the Planned Parenthood website.

To learn more information about the HPV vaccine or other vaccines, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. It provides information on who should be immunized, against what and when, the different types of vaccines, side effects and safety information, where you can go, and commonly asked questions.

What are some questions you would ask your doctor before getting immunized against HPV? Let us know in the comments section.