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Who Should Have the HPV Vaccine?

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HPV Vaccine

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that can cause multiple types of cancer, including cervical cancers later in life.  HPV is very prevalent, with around 13 million people in the U.S, including teens, becoming infected each year.

HPV vaccination has proven to be a safe, effective defense against cancer-causing HPV infections.   In fact,  since HPV vaccination was first recommended in 2006, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 88% among teen girls and 81% among young adult women. Studies have shown the vaccines provide at least 12 years of protection.

Following CDC guidelines,. it is recommended that all preteens aged 11-12 years receive two doses of HPV vaccine 6 to 12 months apart.  Teens and young adults who receive the vaccinations later, at ages 15 through 26 years, will need three doses of HPV vaccine. It is recommend that those with weakened immune systems aged 9 through 26 years also receive three doses.

Should Adults Older Than 26 Get the HPV Vaccine?

Because adults older than age 26 are much more likely to have already been exposed to HPV, there is less benefit provided by the vaccine. However, certain adults age 27 through 45 years who have not been vaccinated should talk with their doctor about their risk for new HPV infections. There may be possible benefits to getting the vaccine.

Pregnant women and those who have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any ingredients in the HPV vaccine, or who have had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of HPV vaccine should not receive the vaccine.

What Are the Side Effects of the HPV Vaccine?

The most common side effects of HPV vaccine are usually mild and include:
  •     Pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was given
  •     Fever
  •     Dizziness or fainting (fainting after any vaccine, including HPV vaccine, is more common among adolescents than others)
  •     Headache or feeling tired
  •     Nausea
  •     Muscle or joint pain
Most health insurance plans cover recommended vaccinations. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program also provides vaccines for children 18 years and younger who are uninsured or underinsured.

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