Human Papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines are vaccines that help to prevent infection by certain types of human papilloma viruses. All vaccines protect against at least HPV 16 and 18 that cause the greatest risk of cervical cancer. HPV vaccine is an inactivated (not live) vaccine which protects against four major types of HPV.
Who should get HPV vaccine and when?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends HPV vaccines as part of routine vaccinations in some countries that can afford them, along with other prevention methods.
- HPV vaccine is routinely recommended for girls between 11 and 12 years of age. Doctors may also give to girls as young as 9 years.
- The HPV4 vaccine (the type of HPV recommended for prevention of genital warts in girls) may also be given in 3 doses to boys aged 9 to 26.
It is important for girls to get HPV vaccine before their first sexual contact as they have not been exposed to the virus. The vaccine helps to prevent almost 100% of the disease caused by the four types of the HPV targeted by the vaccine, and if a girl or a woman has already been infected with a type of HPV before vaccination, the vaccine will not prevent the disease from that type of HPV.
The vaccine is recommended for girls and women between 13 through 26 years of age who have not been infected with the virus when they were young.
What are the risks from HPV vaccine?
HPV vaccine appears not to cause any serious side effects, but there are some vaccines that could cause serious problems such as severe allergic reactions.
Some mild problems may occur with HPV vaccine. This includes:
- Pain at injection site
- Redness or swelling at injection site
- Mild fever
- itching at the injection site
There are categories of girls or women who should not get HPV vaccine or who should wait until they are told to do so.
- Those who have been involved in a life-threatening allergic reaction to yeast, to any other component of HPV vaccine or a previous dose of HPV vaccine.
- Pregnant women are not advised to get the vaccine
- People with severe illness should wait until they are okay before getting the vaccine.
If you notice any severe reaction after been vaccinated, such as high fever or any behavioural changes, or any sign of serious allergic reaction like difficulty in breathing, paleness, weakness, dizziness e.t.c, you should make sure you call a doctor or take the person to see a doctor immediately and give all necessary information as to when the vaccine was given, the time, and the reactions that occurred so the physician will know the next thing to do.
There are three licensed HPV vaccines available in the United States. HPV vaccines are given as a series of three shots over six months to protect against HPV infection and other health problems HPV infection can cause.