The Importance of HPV Vaccination: What You Need to Know

Why Get Vaccinated?

Vaccination is a powerful tool in our arsenal for fighting disease, and the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine is no exception. This vaccine protects against certain types of HPV, which can lead to various types of cancers in both men and women. These include cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women, penile cancer in men, and anal and oropharyngeal (throat) cancers in both genders. Additionally, HPV infections can cause anogenital warts.

HPV is a prevalent infection, spread through intimate skin-to-skin or sexual contact. While most infections clear up on their own within 2 years, some persist and can lead to cancer later in life. The HPV vaccine has been shown to prevent over 90% of cancers caused by HPV.

The Vaccine

Routine recommendation for the HPV vaccine is for adolescents at 11 or 12 years old, ensuring they receive protection before potential exposure. However, it can be given as early as 9 years old, with continued recommendation for everyone through the age of 26. Adults aged 27 through 45 may also be candidates for the vaccine based on discussions with their healthcare provider.

Dosage depends on age and certain health conditions. Most children who receive the first dose before 15 years of age need 2 doses of the HPV vaccine. Those who get the first dose at or after 15 years of age, and younger people with certain immunocompromising conditions, need 3 doses.

Talk with Your Healthcare Provider

Before getting the vaccine, disclose any history of allergic reactions to a previous dose of HPV vaccine, severe allergies, or pregnancy. The vaccine is not recommended during pregnancy.

While those with minor illnesses may still receive the vaccine, it's usually advisable for those with moderate to severe illnesses to wait until recovery. For more detailed guidance, consult with your healthcare provider.

Risks of a Vaccine Reaction

Like any vaccine, there can be side effects. These may include soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site, fever, or headache. People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Inform your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears. Although extremely rare, severe allergic reactions or other serious injuries can occur.

What if There is a Serious Problem?

Severe allergic reactions could manifest after leaving the clinic. If signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness) are present, seek immediate emergency assistance.

For other concerning signs, contact your healthcare provider. Adverse reactions should also be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). They can be reached at 1-800-822-7967 or through the VAERS website. Please note that VAERS does not provide medical advice.

If injury occurs due to vaccination, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) provides a means of compensation. Please visit the VICP website or call 1-800-338-2382 to learn about the program and filing a claim.

For further information, talk to your healthcare provider, call your local or state health department, visit the FDA’s website for vaccine package inserts, or contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO). Additionally, the CDC’s [HPV vaccine webpage](

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