Nurse putting bandaid over vaccination spot on woman's arm

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

What do you know about human papillomavirus or HPV?

Human papillomavirus or HPV is a common virus that can lead to certain types of cancer later in life. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates approximately 36,500 people (including women and men) in the United States will be diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV infection. Nearly everyone will get HPV at some time in their life. Most new HPV infections occur in adolescents/young adults. Most sexually active adults have been exposed to HPV, however sexual relations do not need to occur to become infected with HPV.

H P V info graphic

What are the symptoms of HPV?

Most infections do not cause external symptoms and may resolve on their own within 2 years of infection. There are no screenings for most cancers caused by HPV. Some infections are persistent and can lead to warts, precancerous lesions or cancer, usually after several decades of persistent infection(s).

There are multiple HPV strains that can cause infection. Approximately 80% of HPV-related cancers are attributable to HPV strains 16 or 18 which are included in the HPV vaccine. HPV can cause cervical, vulvar, and vaginal cancer in females, penile cancer in males, and anal and oropharyngeal cancer in both females and males.

Is HPV preventable?

Vaccination against HPV can help prevent infections and HPV-associated diseases, like cancer. It is not a treatment for current HPV infection.

HPV vaccination is very safe and effective in protecting against HPV and the cancers it causes. HPV vaccination is recommended earlier rather than later in life; however it is recommended that everyone through age 26 years should get HPV vaccine if they had not been fully vaccinated. The vaccine can protect your child before they ever have contact with the virus.

What is Gardasil9?

Gardasil9 is a vaccine available to help protect against HPV infection. It is licensed for individuals ages 9 to 45 years of age.

Children ages 11–12 years should get a 2-dose series of HPV vaccine, given 6 to 12 months apart. HPV vaccines can be given starting at age 9 years. Studies have shown that two doses of HPV vaccine given to 9–14-year-olds at least 6 months apart provided as good or better protection than three doses given to older adolescents or young adults. A 3-dose schedule is recommended for people who get the first dose on or after their 15th birthday, and for people with certain immunocompromising conditions due to disease or medications that decrease the immune system.

Studies continue to prove HPV vaccination works extremely well; preventing over 90% of cancers caused by HPV, as well as the development of abnormal cells that can lead to cancer.

Woman holding up sleeve to show bandaid that reads H P V

What kind of side effects to expect after vaccination with Gardasil9?

Like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects, including pain, swelling, or redness in the area of the arm where the shot was given. That’s normal for HPV vaccine and should go away in a day or two.

Will I need a prescription for this vaccine?

Ask your pharmacist; most Lewis Drug locations have an agreement with local providers that allows for individual screening and vaccination at the pharmacy that same day.

What is the cost of the vaccine?

The cost of the vaccine will depend on your insurance. For patients with commercial insurance, 89.4% of patients paid no out-of-pocket costs for a shot of Gardasil9. Ask your pharmacist regarding your coverage.

Sources: Ask the Experts: HPV.

CDC. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know

CDC. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) ACIP Vaccine Recommendations.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) -

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