HPV, or human papillomavirus, can create a myriad health complications. Fortunately, scientists have developed an HPV vaccine, and most people are eligible to receive the vaccine once they are of age. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through FAQs we receive regarding HPV and the vaccine for this virus.
What Is HPV?
HPV is a virus that is usually contracted through sexual contact. Like many viruses, there are a variety of strains that can create different symptoms ranging in severity. Most cases of genital warts can be traced back to one of the strains of HPV. HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women, and it can also lead to cancers of the vagina, penis, anus, and throat.
How does the HPV vaccine work?
The HPV vaccine protects against the two types of HPV that cause the most HPV cancers. If you receive the HPV vaccine when you’re 11 or 12 years old, it can protect against HPV types 16 and 18 for your entire life. While the HPV vaccine doesn’t necessarily protect against every form of the virus, it is highly effective at preventing a recipient from contracting the more concerning strains.
What can I expect when I receive the HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccine is administered as a shot in the arm and it’s typically given in three doses over six months. Side effects are uncommon, but can include pain or swelling at the injection site, fever, headache, and nausea. If any of these symptoms persist or worsen after 72 hours, contact your doctor immediately. Allergic reactions are extremely rare, but may occur.
Who should receive the HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccine isn’t like other vaccines because it’s recommended at different ages depending on where you live. The HPV vaccine is generally recommended for boys and girls at 11 or 12 years old, but it can be given as early as age nine. Teens and young adults who did not get the HPV vaccine when they were younger may also benefit from a booster. The HPV vaccine can also be given through age 26, if it has not been received previously. It is especially important to receive the HPV vaccine if there is a history of cancer in the family.
Is the HPV vaccine safe?
The HPV vaccine was found to be safe and effective after years of research. The HPV vaccine is only approved for people nine through 26 years old because the effects on younger populations have not been studied extensively yet.
Where can I receive the HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccine should be available through any primary care provider. Your pediatrician will let you know when they recommend the first round of shots. If you did not receive the vaccine as a minor, ask your PCP if the HPV shot is right for you.
Local Lynchburg patients can schedule an appointment with Community Access Network to discuss the HPV shot and any other health concerns you may have. We’d love to hear from you!