When it comes to the HPV vaccination, you may have a lot of questions such as what it is, what it’s used for, and the side effects of it. In short, this vaccine is needed and is often given to boys and girls because it can help them keep protected against certain cancers. HPV, short for Human Papillomavirus, is a sexually transmitted infection. Here is what you need to know about the vaccine. 

What exactly is HPV?

The Human Papillomavirus is a name that is given to a group of viruses. Some HPVs are high risk as they can cause various cancers such as cervical, genital, anal, and cancers around the head. However, there are some HPV within this group that may only cause minor conditions such as warts. Many of these HPV infections do not have any symptoms that can indicate to the person whether they’re affected or not.

How do you get HPV?

HPV is transmitted through sex, this is a virus that many people get but oftentimes their body will fight off the infection on its own. If the body cannot get rid of it entirely, then the virus will remain within the body.

What does the HPV Vaccine do?

The vaccine has the potential to prevent most cases of cervical cancer and other cancers around the genitals as long as the vaccine is given to boys and girls before they’re exposed to the virus. The vaccine can also prevent genital warts and head, neck, and throat cancers as well. While girls are the main target of HPV, boys also get vaccinated as it helps in decreasing the transmission for girls.

At what age can the vaccine be given?

Boys and girls can get the vaccine as early as age 9, but typically it’s given between the ages of 11 and 12. Ideally, children receive the vaccine before they have any sort of sexual contact.  Teenagers and young adults can also get vaccinated, from the ages of 15 to 26, but three doses of the vaccine will be required. Adults older than the age of 26 can receive the HPV vaccine but you’ll need to have a doctor’s recommendation. 

Why is the HPV vaccine often given at such a young age?

The HPV infection can spread through sexual contact but also regular skin-to-skin contact such as through the fingertips, hands, and mouth. While it’s typically through sexual contact, touching is one of the common causes.   The young age for children getting vaccinated has no links between earlier sexual activity, it’s just the safest method of vaccinating them before there is the potential of being exposed to any HPV infections.

The children will be protected in their teenage years and adulthood once vaccinated. It’s better to be vaccinated as unvaccinated people tend to get some type of HPV within one point of their life. While the virus often doesn’t harm the body, whatever the immune system doesn’t fight off, there’s potential for it to grow and cause damage years later.

What are the side effects of the HPV vaccine?

Most children who receive the shot will have muscle soreness in the area where the vaccine was injected. Most children may have headaches, fever, or stomach aches. These side effects are very temporary and often last no more than a couple of days.

When adults are taking the vaccine some of the common side effects are headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and weakness. These are temporary and tend to not last longer than a couple of days.

How is the HPV vaccine given?

Depending on the age of the person will depend on the number of injections they will need. Those who are under the age of 26 only need two injections of the vaccine on their upper warm, while everyone over the age of 26 will need to have three injections. The vaccinations are all six months apart.

Is there anybody who should not receive the HPV vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is not recommended to anybody that has an allergy to yeast or latex, you will need to talk with your doctors first before getting vaccinated. The HPV vaccine is also not recommended to anybody who is severely ill or pregnant.

How long does the vaccine keep you protected?

While the HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV it does protect the person through most of these viruses. The vaccine does not protect against all HPV infections that cause cervical cancer, which is why women will need to have cervical cancer screenings regularly.

The vaccine will protect against most HPV for around 10 years.