If you’re a parent or young adult, chances are you’ve heard a lot about the HPV vaccine. Whether positive or negative, it’s important that you learn all there is to know about this important vaccine, so you can keep your kids or yourself protected and have the best chance at a happy, healthy life.
What does the HPV Vaccine Prevent?
The HPV vaccine was designed to protect women and girls from several types of the human papilloma virus, which is responsible for several cancers, like cervical cancer, and genital warts.
HPV is spread through sexual contact. There are about 20 million infected people in the U.S., and an estimated 6.2 million are newly infected each year.
Cervical cancer is our biggest concern. Over 10,000 women get cervical cancer each year and 3,700 die from it. It’s the second most common cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide. Protecting yourself or your child could save a life.
Who Should get the Vaccine?
The HPV vaccine was designed for girls 11 and 12 years of age, although the CDC says that girls can get the vaccine starting at age 9. It is recommended that girls and women 13-26 get the vaccine if they have not been vaccinated. Although it is best to get the vaccine before one becomes sexually active, you can still be protected if you get vaccinated after the fact. This vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women.
Is it Safe?
This vaccine is incredibly safe and has mild side effects that might include fever, dizziness, and nausea. If you’re allergic to yeast or other components of the vaccine you should not get it. The CDC regularly monitors side effects of this and every other vaccine out to ensure maximum safety to the public.
What Types of HPV Vaccines are There?
There are three HPV vaccine brands – Gardasil, Gardasil 9, and Ceravix – all of which protect against HPV 16 and 18. These types are responsible for nearly 70% of cervical cancer cases today. Gardasil and Gardasil 9 offer additional protection from types 6 and 11, which are responsible for almost 90% of genital warts cases.
How is it given?
The HPV vaccine is given in a series of three doses. After your first dose you’ll receive a second dose two months later and a third dose 4 months after the second dose. The total time for proper dosage is six months. This vaccine can be given concurrent with other vaccines.