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HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine - what you need to know

Definition

All content below is taken in its entirety from the CDC HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Vaccine Information Statement (VIS): www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hpv.html.

CDC review information for HPV (Human Papillomavirus) VIS:

  • Page last updated: August 6, 2021

Information

Why get vaccinated?

HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine can prevent infection with some types of human papillomavirus.

HPV infections can cause certain types of cancers, including:

  • Cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women
  • Penile cancer in men
  • Anal cancers in both men and women
  • Cancers of tonsils, base of tongue, and back of throat (oropharyngeal cancer) in both men and women

HPV infections can also cause anogenital warts.

HPV vaccine can prevent over 90% of cancers caused by HPV.

HPV is spread through intimate skin-to-skin or sexual contact. HPV infections are so common that nearly all people will get at least one type of HPV at some time in their lives. Most HPV infections go away on their own within 2 years. But sometimes HPV infections will last longer and can cause cancers later in life.

HPV vaccine

HPV vaccine is routinely recommended for adolescents at 11 or 12 years of age to ensure they are protected before they are exposed to the virus. HPV vaccine may be given beginning at age 9 years and vaccination is recommended for everyone through 26 years of age.

HPV vaccine may be given to adults 27 through 45 years of age, based on discussions between the patient and health care provider.

Most children who get the first dose before 15 years of age need 2 doses of HPV vaccine. People who get the first dose at or after 15 years of age and younger people with certain immunocompromising conditions need 3 doses. Your health care provider can give you more information.

HPV vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

Talk with your health care provider

Tell your vaccination provider if the person getting the vaccine:

  • Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of HPV vaccine, or has any severe, life-threatening allergies
  • Is pregnant -- HPV vaccine is not recommended until after pregnancy

In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone HPV vaccination until a future visit.

People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting HPV vaccine.

Your health care provider can give you more information.

Risks of a vaccine reaction

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot is given can happen after HPV vaccination.
  • Fever or headache can happen after HPV vaccination.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

What if there is a serious problem?

An allergic reaction could occur after the vaccinated person leaves the clinic. If you see signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness), call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number and get the person to the nearest hospital.

For other signs that concern you, call your health care provider.

Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your health care provider will usually file this report, or you can do it yourself. Visit the VAERS website at www.vaers.hhs.gov or call 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff members do not give medical advice.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines. Claims regarding alleged injury or death due to vaccination have a time limit for filing, which may be as short as two years. Visit the VICP website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccine-compensation or call 1-800-338-2382 to learn about the program and about filing a claim.

How can I learn more?

Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Gallery

Vaccines
Vaccines are used to boost your immune system and prevent many diseases, some of which are serious or life-threatening. Vaccines “teach“ your body how to defend itself when germs, such as viruses or bacteria, invade it. After exposure to the vaccine, your immune system learns to recognize and attack the viruses or bacteria if you are exposed to them later in life. As a result, you will not become ill. Or, if you do get the illness, you will likely have a milder infection. Vaccines are very safe and very effective at protecting against certain serious diseases.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hpv.html. Current edition date: August 6, 2021. Accessed July 27, 2023.

Last reviewed July 8, 2023 by Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team..

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