What is the HPV vaccine?

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps prevent HPV infections and those types of cancers. HPV can cause cervical, oropharynx, anal and other types of cancers.

HPV Facts

  • 43 million HPV infections occur annually.
  • HPV can be dormant for up to 40 years.
  • Those ages 30-55 are in the average age range to develop HPV-related head and neck cancers.

Who is recommended to receive the HPV vaccine?

  • The vaccine is recommended for both boys and girls.
  • Receiving the vaccine at ages 11-12 is most effective before exposure.
  • There are two doses of the vaccine, given 6-12 months apart.
  • For those that wait until ages 15-26 to receive the vaccine, there are three doses to be delivered.

Why should be people receive the HPV vaccine?

The CDC says that 85-percent of people will get an HPV infection in their lifetime.

Almost every unvaccinated person who is sexually active will get HPV at some time in their life. About 13 million Americans, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. Most HPV infections will go away on their own. But infections that don’t go away can cause certain types of cancer. Learn more on why the CDC urges for HPV vaccination by clicking here.

How has the HPV vaccine been effective at preventing cancer-causing infections and precancers?

The CDC says that HPV infections and cervical precancers (abnormal cells on the cervix that can lead to cancer) have dropped since 2006, when HPV vaccines were first used in the United States.

  • Among teen girls, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 88 percent.
  • Among young adult women, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 81 percent.
  • Among vaccinated women, the percentage of cervical precancers caused by the HPV types most often linked to cervical cancer has dropped by 40 percent.

Is the vaccine safe?

Per the CDC, over 15 years of monitoring the HPV vaccine has proven safe and effective. Scientists continue to monitor HPV vaccines to ensure they are effective. Click here to learn more.

Like any medicine, HPV vaccines can have some side effects. The most common side effects are mild and include:

  • Pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was given.
  • Dizziness or fainting. (fainting after any vaccination, including HPV vaccine, is more common among adolescents)
  • Nausea
  • Headache

The CDC says that the benefits of HPV vaccination far outweigh the risk of potential side effects.