Human Papillomavirus  vaccination


Human papilloma (HPV) is a viral infection and is the common infection, which causes cervical cancer. In addition to cervical cancer this virus also causes vaginal, vulval (external genitalia), anal, throat cancer and penile cancer (in males). HPV virus not only causes cancer but (which looks like cauliflower growth). These infections are very common in women who are in their late teens or early 20s and in those who have had multiple sexual partners. You will be unaware that you have this infection because this virus will not cause any symptoms. You do not have to go to lab to check if you have this infection, you do not need any treatment for this infection, because body immune system will clear this infection from your body. When this infection doesn’t get cleared from your body for some reason and stays in your body for long period of time then there is chance that you may develop cancer.

Why is HPV vaccine important?
  • HPV infection is a common infection in sexually active women and this infection is passed from one partner to another through either skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity or oral sex or through penetration sex.

  • So if you are sexually active then it is important that you have the vaccine.

  • The best result would be if you get vaccinated even before you become sexually active.

  • If you take the vaccine before you become sexually active then you will not only protect your self from the cancer but also prevent yourself from developing genital warts.

Who should receive HPV vaccination?
  • HPV vaccination is recommended for both girls and boys.

  • For girls this vaccine is recommended from 11 and 12 years up to 26 years. It is also recommended to girls beginning at the age of 9 years

  • For those young girls who are getting vaccinated at 9 to 14 years of age, they will just need two shots (injections), after the first shot the 2nd shot is given 6-12 months after the first dose.

  • Now for girls who are getting vaccination at or after 15 years they need to get 3 doses, after the 1st shot the 2nd shot will be give 1-2 months later and your 3rd shot should be taken 6 months after your 2nd

Why is HPV vaccine not recommended for women more than 26 years?
  • Research has shown that there is no benefit if vaccination is given after 26 years. Hence, for women after 26 years, the best protection is by getting regular Pap smears.

I am already sexually active can I take the vaccine? Will it benefit me?
  • Best time to take this vaccine is before becoming sexually active, but yes women who are already sexually active too will benefit but to a lesser extent.

  • What you need to know is that if you are sexually active and take the vaccine it will not help in clearing the virus, which you have already acquired, but it will prevent you from acquiring new infections.

Should I do any test before having vaccination?
  • No, you do not need any testing to be done before you get yourself vaccinated.

I am pregnant can I get vaccine?
  • No, if you are pregnant don’t take the vaccine.

  • If you become pregnant while you have been taking the vaccine you don’t have to panic because studies have shown that the vaccine does not cause any problems to the baby, but if you have any more shots taken them after your delivery.

How effective is the HPV vaccine in preventing cancer?
  • Studies and research have shown that vaccine have been highly effective in preventing HPV infection.

For low long will this protection last? Do I need a booster dose?
  • Research has shown that protection is long lasting and till date there is no evidence that you need a booster dose. Please discuss in detail with your doctor about this.

What are the side effects of vaccine?
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has licensed the HPV vaccine, hence they are safe.

  • You can have some side effects like any other vaccination they are:

    • mild pain at the injection site

    • fever

    • slight dizziness (may be more in people who have needle phobia) and

    • nausia

Do I still need to Pap smear after I have received HPV vaccination?
  • YES, remember that the rule is that even after receiving HPV vaccination you have to go regularly for Pap smear.

For more information on HPV vaccination talk to your doctor, this can save your life.