Paret patients ask two common questions: “What is HPV, and who should get the HPV vaccine?” The Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted disease. Furthermore, it affects approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population. So far, researchers identified more than 100 types of HPV. We transmit HPV during intimate sexual contact which includes vaginal and anal intercourse. Condoms lower the chance of infection but do not fully protect against HPV. Keep your child safe and learn the types of HPV vaccines to get.
HPV and cancer
Many people never know that they have an HPV infection. Therefore, they can easily pass HPV on to their partners without ever knowing. This makes HPV difficult to manage. The majority of patients are asymptomatic while infections can resolve on their own. However, problems arise when HPV persists, which can happen for years before detection.
HPV and cancer come into play when we don’t vaccinate. Untreated infections cause cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, penis, and oropharynx. Doctors label different HPV strains as high or low-risk for causing cervical cancer. Furthermore, low-risk HPV strains include six and eleven. These cause the majority of genital warts. High-risk HPV types include 16 and 18, accounting for 70 percent of cervical cancers. Other high-risk HPV strains consist of types, such as 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. However, these have small percentages.
To prevent HPV-related diseases, doctors provide different types of HPV vaccines. Three HPV vaccine names include:
- Gardasil – targets HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18
- Cervarix – targets HPV types 16 and 18
- Gardasil 9 – targets HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58
Gardasil 9 provides the greatest coverage. Plus, it stands as the only type of HPV vaccine available in the U.S. Providers inject it into the muscle of the upper arm or thigh.
Children aged 9 can receive the vaccine. Generally, providers recommend the starting age to be 11 to 12 years old. The CDC recommends vaccinating up to the age of 26 in females and 21 in males. After 26 years, HPV vaccines provide limited protection. Recently, the FDA approved to expand the use of Gardisil 9 in adults aged 27 to 45 years. However, limited information exists on its effectiveness.
Children aged14 years and younger will need only two shots total. Providers space this out from six to 12 months apart. If the time between the two doses lasts 5 months or less, they will need a third dose. Children older than 14 will need three shots, with subsequent doses at two and six months after the initial vaccine. Lastly, if a recipient has a compromised immune system, providers recommend all three doses. You can also resume interrupted and missed doses without restarting the series.
HPV vaccination safety
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extensively tested the HPV vaccine to ensure patient safety. Side effects from the HPV vaccine aren’t serious and may include pain or redness at the injection site, dizziness, fainting, nausea, and headache.
Data on the vaccine’s efficacy is available for about 10 years following vaccination. Surveillance studies have demonstrated vaccine safety and efficacy with excellent antibody responses, suggesting long-lasting protected immunity. The greatest protection is achieved if the vaccine is given before becoming sexually active. However, patients with prior documented HPV infection—such as a history of genital warts or positive HPV on Pap smear—can still benefit from the vaccine, as it can provide protection from other HPV types that have not been acquired. HPV immunization does not protect 100 percent against all HPV types known to cause cervical cancer, and it is not used as a treatment for clearing HPV infections acquired prior to immunization. Cervical cancer screening is still indicated after vaccination.
HPV infections can have lasting health effects. Every year, numerous men and women are diagnosed with pre-cancers and cancers caused by HPV. The HPV vaccination can help decrease these numbers and aid in disease prevention.
How to get vaccinated
If you or a child needs to get vaccinated, Women’s Care Florida provides types of HPV vaccines. Schedule an appointment or contact then today,