Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are a group of about 200 related viruses. About 40 types of them can easily spread through direct sexual contact, from the skin and mucous membranes of the infected people. They can be spread by vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
Other HPV types are responsible for other diseases and conditions such as non-genital warts.
HPVs can cause several types of cancer, such as:
Cervical cancer is mainly caused by Human Papillomavirus infection. It is one of the leading cancer types in women around the world and the second most common cancer in women worldwide. There are several methods of prevention of cervical cancer, but prevention by vaccination (HPV shot) is emerging as the most effective option.
Three HPV vaccines are approved by the FDA to prevent HPV infection. These are:
All of these HPV vaccine types can prevent infections with HPV types 16 and 18, two high-risk HPVs that cause most of the cervical cancers and some of the other HPV-associated cancers.
Gardasil can also prevent infection with HPV types which cause most of the genital warts. Gardasil 9 too prevents infection with several high-risk HPV types.
It helps prevent infection by HPV-16, HPV-18, and also HPV-6 and HPV-11, the two HPV types that cause 90% of the genital warts. Gurdasil is used to prevent cancers and pre-cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, penis, and throat.
Gardasil 9 can protect against nine HPV types which cause about 90% of all cervical cancer cases in women, 95% of all HPV-related cancers in men, and 90% of genital warts.
Gardasil 9 shot provides vaccinated people with protection against these nine types of HPVs:
The HPV vaccine targets the HPV types that most commonly cause cervical cancer and some other cancers as listed above. It also protects against the HPV types that cause most genital warts.
Protection from HPV vaccine is expected to be long-lasting. But none of the currently available HPV vaccines protect against all HPV infections that cause cancer. It is therefore important for any women even after HPV vaccination to continue with cervical cancer screening at regular time intervals as recommended by the doctor.
The FDA has approved Gardasil and Gardasil 9 for use in females of age between 9 and 26 for the prevention of HPV-associated cervical, vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancers and pre-cancers thereof, and genital warts.
Cervarix is approved by the FDA for use in females of an age between 9 and 25 years for the prevention of HPV-caused cervical cancer.
Gardasil and Gardasil 9 are also approved by FDA for use in males for the prevention of HPV-related anal cancer, pre-cancers, and genital warts.
Boys and girls should start getting the HPV vaccine series at an age of 11 or 12 years. The HPV vaccine series can be started as early as age 9 and should be finished before boys turn 13 years old.
If you haven’t already got your preteen or teen boys vaccinated, it’s not too late. If the boy is already 15 years old and hasn’t started the HPV vaccine series, he will need three shots, over 6 months.
The schedule for HPV vaccine under immunization program for cervical cancer and other risks currently is:
If a girl misses any of the two doses of HPV vaccinations at school, she should contact the school immunisation team or her parents. Preferably, it should be done as early as possible.
Older girls, as old as 18 years old, should talk to their doctor about how to get vaccinated and the schedule for their doses.
These people should not get the HPV vaccine:
The HPV vaccine is not proved to be harmful to pregnant women or their unborn babies. However, pregnant women are advised not to receive the HPV vaccine due to lack of conclusive support. Women who are breastfeeding are recommended to safely receive the HPV vaccine.
The human papillomavirus shot is given as an injection into the upper arm – usually two doses are needed, with at least six months gap.
According to CDC recommendations, HPV vaccines should be given intramuscularly in the deltoid region of the upper arm or in the higher anterolateral area of the thigh.
Preferably, the injection should be given in the deltoid region of the upper arm as it is considered as the preferred site for administration of the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer and other risks. It should not be administered intravenously, intra-dermally, or subcutaneously.
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