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HPV Vaccine: The Basics

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Updated June 09, 2014

HPV Vaccine: The Basics

What is it? Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine.

Brand names: In the United States, the brand available is Gardasil®.

Who is it for? The vaccine is currently available to women and girls, ages 9 to 26. It is often given at the 11- or 12-year-old checkup.

How is it given? It is given as a series of three shots over a six-month time period.

What does it do? The HPV vaccine protects against four strains (or types) of the virus, which are all sexually transmitted. Two of these types cause genital warts. The other two strains of the virus cause 70% of the cervical cancers that occur.

In the United States, 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,000 women die from cervical cancer each year. This makes cervical cancer the number two cancer killer of women in the U.S. The problem is even more widespread outside of the U.S. Worldwide, 473,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 253,000 women die from the disease annually.

Common side effects of the vaccine: Fainting, pain or itching at the injection site, redness or swelling at the injection site, mild to moderate fever.

Who should not get it: Anyone who has had a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine or any of its components. A serious allergic reaction includes difficulty breathing, throat swelling, hives, weakness, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat. Currently, men are not eligible to get the vaccine, but there are studies being done to test its safety in men.

Sources:

HPV Vaccine Information for Young Women. Centers for Disease Control. November 10, 2008. http://www.cdc.gov/std/Hpv/STDFact-HPV-vaccine.htm

HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) Vaccine: What You Need to Know. Centers for Disease Control. November 10, 2008. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/Pubs/vis/downloads/vis-hpv.pdf

National Cervical Cancer Coalition/National HPV Cancer Coalition. November 10, 2008. http://www.nccc-online.org/index.html

Possible Side-effects from Vaccines. Centers for Disease Control. November 9, 2008. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects.htm

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